Report: United Women 1 Leicester City 1

Sunday 15 October 2023 14:50

Manchester United came from behind but had to settle for a draw against Leicester City, after our Women's Super League encounter with the Foxes finished 1-1.

Despite the Reds dominating at Leigh Sports Village, it was Leicester who opened the scoring on the hour mark through Aileen Whelan, with the Foxes’ skipper free at the back post to fire them ahead. 

United hit back seven minutes later though, courtesy of a sweeping Maya Le Tissier header from Katie Zelem’s corner. 
Back at Leigh for the third game in succession, the Reds welcomed the Foxes for the latest early-season instalment of our 2023/24 WSL campaign. The fixture would come to a concerning halt just seven minutes in, with defender Gabby George requiring treatment for an injury that ultimately saw her withdrawn from the action.

After resetting with the introduction of Jayde Riviere, moving Hannah Blundell from right to left full-back, we gradually grew into the game and had our first real chances from a Zelem corner. Melvine Malard saw two efforts blocked by some last-ditch defending from the Leicester backline. 

Janice Cayman had Willie Kirk’s side’s first sight of goal 20 minutes in, but planted her effort wide of the mark. From that point on in the first half, it was pure dominance from Marc Skinner’s team, with Nikita Parris and Malard linking up well, but the former denied a goal thanks to Janina Leitzig’s prowess on the line. 
The Foxes shot-stopper would become a key player in the half, making multiple saves to deny us an opener at LSV. She stepped up big once more to deny Zelem from range, after some nice build-up play down the right. 

Our best effort of the half would come in stoppage-time, when Hinata Miyazawa rattled her effort off the underside of the crossbar. The move was driven by Riviere down the right, dinking a dangerous ball into the box, but Hinata could only watch on as her cushioned half-volley hit the woodwork, with Malard heading a follow-up effort over. 

Miyazawa had a second effort saved by Leitzig moments later, with the German keeper also denying Lucia Garcia in the last action of the first 45 to keep things level heading into the break.
Skinner’s side picked up where we left off after the interval, but found ourselves behind with 30 minutes to go after Whelan fired the Foxes ahead against the run of play. A routine free-kick was nodded into the path of their skipper, who was in space at the back post and able to poke beyond Earps. 

Chasing the game, the Reds immediately drove forward in search of an equaliser. Parris fired a teasing ball across the face of goal in the direction of second-half substitute Leah Galton, but a last-ditch header prevented our no.11 from getting something on it.

Zelem stood over the resulting corner, guiding it into the path of Le Tissier, who managed the break free of her marker and glance a header into the bottom corner to bring the Reds level once more. 
Mary Earps made her 100th appearance for the club on the afternoon.
A stop-start second half failed to really get going beyond the two goals, with neither side able to take advantage of a lengthy stoppage-time period. United’s best chance to nick it late on came from Parris, who couldn’t quite guide her free header beyond the opposing goalkeeper in the final minutes. 

The referee's full-time whistle sounded soon after, signalling that the points would be shared between the teams. The focus of Skinner's Reds will now turn to Wednesday's meeting with Paris Saint-Germain, in the second leg of our evenly-poised UEFA Women’s Champions League round-two tie.
Hinata and Malard made their first starts for the Reds on the afternoon, while substitute Gemma Evans was introduced for her debut.

United: Earps; Blundell, Le Tissier, Turner, George (Riviere 9 (Evans 75)); Ladd (Williams 57), Zelem; Garcia (Galton 57), Miyazawa, Malard (Toone 56); Parris.

Unused substitutes: Tullis-Joyce, Rabjohn, Naalsund, Irene G.

Goal: Le Tissier 67. 

Bookings: Zelem 58.

Leicester: Leitzig; Cayman (Rantala 46), Green (Thibaud 83), Howard, Nevin; Goodwin (Cain 46), Whelan, Tierney, Bott, O’Brien (Rose 46); Petermann (Draper 90+4). 

Unused substitutes: Mears, Palmer, Robinson, Baker. 

: Whelan 60. 

Bookings: Nevin 42, Petermann 51, Bott 53, Cain 55, Rantala 72.