United Women celebrate historic championship
The champions signed off their FA Women’s Championship season in style, beating Lewes Women 5-0 on the day they lifted the league title at Leigh Sports Village.
With the Barmy Army and a 3,702-strong crowd in celebratory mood long before the first whistle, the players didn’t take long to give them yet more reason to cheer.
A clearance from Emily Ramsey – making her second start in goal with Siobhan Chamberlain sidelined through injury – fell to Leah Galton whose first-time lay-off found an on-rushing Lauren James. With a drop of the shoulder, the 17-year-old created space to pick her spot and whipped a low effort past Faye Baker to give United the lead with just over 10 minutes played.
James, along with Mollie Green, has been battling it out with Jess Sigsworth at the top of the goalscoring charts all season. With Green a late omission from the starting line-up due an injury sustained in the warm-up, James posed the likeliest threat to Sigsworth's supremacy, and her early strike took her level with our no. 9 on 17 goals.
The scorer of the club’s first ever hat-trick was not to be outdone though, and doubled our lead on 22 minutes, taking her final tally to 18 in all competitions. Kirsty Smith retrieved possession deep in Lewes’s half and Sigsworth capitalised, driving a low, slightly deflected effort into the bottom left corner.
The former Doncaster Rovers Belles striker – top-scorer in this division last season – could have added more to her name before half-time. Baker denied her three times, saving well with her feet and catching and holding a headed effort.
Kirsty Hanson replaced her on the hour-mark as the third of our substitutions, after Aimee Palmer and Matha Harris were introduced at half-time for Lizzie Arnot and Kirsty Smith, respectively.
Hanson was quickly into the action and involved in three goals inside 12 second-half minutes. Her determination to win the ball back just outside the penalty area ultimately led to the Reds’ third goal (an emphatic Leah Galton finish from a tight angle), she provided the assist for the fourth – Aimee Palmer’s first for the club – and won a free-kick which ended up in the net with 11 minutes left to play.
A contented Ole Gunnar Solskjaer waves to the crowd.
The fifth, scored by Amy Turner, prompted chants of: ‘We want seven’ from the crowd, who were keen to see Casey Stoney’s side score the two more strikes required to take our season's tally in the league to 100.
The scoreline remained at 5-0 until the final whistle though, but another emphatic win caps off an excellent season for United, in which they were beaten just once in the league.
Millie Turner goes in strongly to win a header, in another dominant display from Stoney's team.
United Women: Ramsey, Smith (45 Harris), A. Turner, M. Turner, Greenwood, Zelem, Toone, Arnot (45 Palmer), James, Galton, Sigsworth (60 Hanson)
Subs not used: Bentley, Devlin.
Scorers: James 11, Sigsworth 33, Galton 67, Palmer 74, A. Turner 79
Lewes Women: Baker, McIntyre ©, Maloney, Rutherford, Boswell, Quayle, Paye, Lane, O’Rourke, Rood, Panting
Subs not used: Taylor, Owen, Wilson (GK), Bridge, Larkin, Rowbotham, King
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