Report: Spurs 1 United Women 1
Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham Hotspur after a dramatic late equaliser at the Hive Stadium.
Alessia Russo’s venomous near-post strike in first-half stoppage time looked to have settled the match, before Ria Percival levelled in the 95th minute with a long-range free-kick.
The result sees the Reds remain unbeaten in seven matches against Spurs, but also two points behind them in the WSL table.
FIRST HALF – RUSSO’S ROCKET
It was the hosts who fashioned the first chance within five minutes when Ashleigh Neville rolled the ball to Jessica Naz on the left flank. Tottenham’s No.7 tried a crafty shot from distance in a bid to catch out Mary Earps at her near post. But Earps, displaying the experience you would except from a keeper making her 50th appearance for the Reds, was alive to the danger and did well to put it behind given the double challenge of swirling winds and the low autumn sun shining towards her end of the ground.
Neither side was finding a real rhythm in the game, which was proving to be a battle being fought in midfield, but of the two sides it was United who were growing into the match better and starting to enjoy greater possession.
Chances for both sets of players were still at a premium, but the Reds thought they may have been in when Ella Toone returned a cleared Katie Zelem corner into the area. The ball found Leah Galton who could only head over the bar, but it wouldn’t have counted anyway as the assistant referee raised the offside flag.
Just under ten minutes before the interval, Russo created an excellent chance out of nothing. Receiving the ball from an Ona Batlle throw-in, she cut inside along the by-line and turned Shelina Zadorsky like the defender wasn’t there. Unleashing a shot, Tinja-Riikka Korpela in the Spurs goal could only turn the ball back into the danger zone. Galton had a crack on the rebound, but Ria Percival was on hand to deflect it away. The resulting corner caused more trouble for the Tottenham defence, but they eventually managed to scramble the ball away.
Into stoppage time, Russo had another effort and, on this occasion, gave Korpela no chance. Driving past two players, she took the ball into the area, where she was 1-on-1 with the last defender. Head down, she smashed a shot towards goal which beat the keeper for pace at the near post and crashed into the roof of the net to give the Marc Skinner’s side a half-time lead.
SECOND HALF – LATE LEVELLER
Buoyed by the goal before the break, United came out flying – creating a host of efforts in the opening five minutes of the half. The pick of them was when Toone found Kirsty Hanson, who tried one from a central position. Her shot was saved but Galton looked like she might latch onto the rebound, before the keeper managed to smother it just in time.
Galton did have an effort a short while later when the ball broke to her inside the area, but a defender got between the ball and the goal to deflect the shot behind. Despite the early pressure, Tottenham managed to steady the ship with the difference between the two sides still being just a solitary goal.
Shortly after 65-miute mark, Earps was called into action when Kit Graham struck from 30 yards and if not for the United keeper’s diving save it would have been a spectacular goal. Having turned the ball behind, Earps then did well to claim the resulting corner.
United were managing the game well, even as the home side tried to increase their intensity in search of a leveller. Substitute Martha Thomas created a couple of chances late on, including lifting a shot just over the crossbar, having gathered a loose pass from the Spurs defence.
However, there was to be a cruel twist late on. With all ten of her team-mates in the box, including the goalkeeper, Percival pumped a hopeful free-kick from deep towards the area. Somehow the ball made it through the crowd and bounced up, leaving a diving Earps unable to keep it out.
Russo was almost the hero at the other end as she got her head to a Galton cross in a bid to restore the lead in the dying seconds, but Korpela denied her to see that the points were shared.
Spurs: Korpela; Neville, Zadorsky (c), Bartrip, Percival; Cho (Ubogagu 46), Clemaron; Naz (Ayane 76), Graham (Green 76), Simon (Addison 80); Williams.
Subs not used: Heeps, Morgan, Harrop, Tang, Ale.
Goals: Percival 90+5.
Booked: Simon, Percival.
United: Earps; Blundell, Mannion, Thorisdottir, O. Batlle; Ladd, Zelem (c); Hanson (Thomas 72), Toone (Staniforth 72), Galton; Russo.
Subs not used: Baggaley, Harris, Boe Risa, F. Fuso, Smith, Jones.
Goals: Russo 45+2.