Manchester United Women put four past league leaders Tottenham Hotspur Ladies at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday afternoon to maintain the unbeaten league record in style.
Lauren James starred on her return from international duty by scoring one and assisting another for Jess Sigsworth, whose brace takes her season tally to eight.
Charlie Devlin scored her first goal for the club in the second half, before Angela Addison became the first player to score past United and Siobhan Chamberlain in the league with a late consolation strike that made it 4-1.
United Women v Spurs Gallery
The standout images from an important game for Casey Stoney's side.
The visitors arrived with a perfect record in the league themselves (played six, won six) but United soon set about ending that.
James gave the Reds the lead after ten minutes, netting the first effort on Tottenham’s goal following excellent work from Sigsworth. The forward turned brilliantly in her own half before her driving run opened up space for James on the edge of the area. The 17-year-old’s deft footwork took her past two players and allowed her to pick her spot past Spurs goalkeeper, Chloe Morgan.
James returned the favour minutes later, turning provider for top-scorer Sigsworth to tap in her low cross from the left.
Passages of play swept from end to end in the first half, though Tottenham struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities to test Siobhan Chamberlain.
Relentless in applying pressure and clinical in their finishing, United had a third goal to celebrate before the break. Leah Galton - on for Kirsty Hanson just after the half hour mark - made an immediate impact, winning a freekick in a dangerous position on the left. Katie Zelem’s pinpoint delivery found Sigsworth at the back post to nod in her second of the game - a goal that will please manager Casey Stoney, who has set her side the challenge of scoring from a set-piece.
Alex Greenwood nearly added a second set-piece goal moments later, when her free-kick rattled off the post. It fell kindly for Amy Turner but the centre-back fired over meaning it remained three rather than four-nil at the break.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with the Reds applying pressure from the outset and enjoying sustained periods of possession.
Spurs, tenacious in their tackling, were limited to half chances throughout and looked to Angela Addison whenever possible to cause problems on the counter.
United nearly had a fourth through unconventional means; an indirect free-kick given after a pass-back was set up for Greenwood, but the captain’s fierce effort was deflected behind for a corner.
Constant pressure finally paid off for the Reds; Toone and Green were denied from long range and Galton had an effort cleared off the line, before Charlie Devlin - on for James - scored her first goal for the club.
United’s impressive clean-sheet record came to an end though; Addison became the first player to score past United and Chamberlain in the league, heading in from a corner in the 82nd minute.
The 4-1 win means United go in to the international break still unbeaten, with only one goal conceded in six matches and now just two points behind Tottenham with a game in hand.
United Women: Chamberlain; Harris, A. Turner, M. Turner, Greenwood; Palmer (Green 45), Zelem, Toone; Hanson (Galton 32), Sigsworth, James (Devlin 71)
Substitutes not used: Bentley, Smith, Hartley, Arnot
Scorers: James, Sigsworth, Devlin
“It was important to get the win and close the gap against Tottenham. As a no. 9, I’m always aiming for the golden boot so it was good to get two goals today but the most important thing is the team getting the win. It doesn’t matter who scores as long as that happens.”
NEXT HOME MATCH
After travelling to Crystal Palace in a fortnight's time on Sunday 18 November, United Women’s next home game will be against Millwall Lionesses, at 12:00 GMT on Sunday 25 November. Match tickets for Leigh Sports Village will again be on sale via www.manutd.com/womenstickets.