Match report: United Women 1 Arsenal 0

Manchester United beat Arsenal 1-0 in Sunday’s WSL encounter at Leigh Sports Village.

The Reds were undoubtedly the better side during the match and Ella Toone’s goal in the 83rd minute ensured we avoided the disappointment of a goalless draw.

The result also means we move top of the WSL table after six games, leapfrogging the Gunners in the process.

It was a quiet opening on a grey afternoon in Leigh, with United dictating most of the play in the first 15 minutes, but only producing one chance of note: a looping shot from Christen Press that didn’t test Manuela Zinsberger in the away goal.
Christen Press was a real handful for Arsenal all afternoon.
The American was certainly United’s most dangerous attacking presence, and she came close with a powerful strike while on the turn and also had an effort blocked en route to goal.

Arsenal were struggling to deal with Press’s power and movement and she forced a sprawling stop from Zinsberger in the 28th minute. The goalkeeper saved dramatically with her feet to deny the United no.24.

The visitors had averaged six goals per game in the league this term prior to Sunday, but failed to launch any meaningful attacks in the first period, and at times found it difficult to get out of their own half, such was the relentlessness of United’s attacking and pressing.

Searching for the opening goal, Casey Stoney introduced Jess Sigsworth at the break in place of Kirsty Hanson - it was our no.9’s first outing of the campaign following an early-season injury.
United started the second half as we’d finished the first and, within the opening five minutes, Tobin Heath fired a shot wide moments before Jackie Groenen’s stooping header went just over.

Just before the hour mark, some excellent dribbling from Heath released the winger on the left flank and, bearing down on goal, her effort was drilled into the side netting.

Soon after and Mary Earps was called into her first real action of the afternoon, when Katie McCabe’s cross into the box flicked off a combination of Millie Turner and Caitlin Foord and was pushed wide for a corner by the United keeper.

Arsenal grew in stature as the second half progressed and Earps was again forced to make a save as Amy Turner accidentally turned the ball towards her own goal, before Leah Williamson blazed a shot over.

With 15 minutes remaining Toone latched onto a long ball and superbly flicked it over Viktoria Schnaderbeck’s head, but her shot was just inches too high.
It was a physical encounter on Sunday.
Katie Zelem then forced Zinsberger into two saves with strikes from outside the box and as we moved towards the end of the game, Toone produced the decisive moment of the afternoon.

It was Sigsworth who powered her way down the right flank and slipped the ball to the midfielder on the edge of the box, and Toone’s perfectly placed shot gave Zinsberger no chance as it kissed the post on its way into the back of the net.

It was a nervy end to proceedings as seven minutes of injury time were shown on the fourth official’s board, but the best chance of the latter stages actually came from United’s Lucy Staniforth, who fired a powerful shot over.

Some well-organised defending from the Reds meant we held on to a much-deserved win and moved top of the table, ending Arsenal’s 100 per cent record in the process.
Just look at that reaction!
MATCH DETAILS

United: Earps; Batlle, A.Turner, M.Turner, Galton; Ladd (Zelem 66), Groenen; Hanson (Sigsworth 45), Toone, Heath (Staniforth 77); Press (James 71).

Substitutes not used: Ramsey, Okvist, Ross.

Goal: Toone 83.

Arsenal: Zinsberger; Wubben-Moy (Maier 78), Williamson, Schnaderbeck (Mace 89), McCabe; Gut (Roord 59), Walti, van de Donk (Little 59); Mead, Miedema, Foord.

Substitutes not used: Williams, Stenson, Pearse, Garrard.

Booked: Wubben-Moy 52.

Referee: Peter Shacklady.

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