United Women 2 Birmingham City Women 0
Manchester United Women returned to the top of the Women's Super League on Sunday afternoon, by beating Birmingham City 2-0 with two second-half goals from Leah Galton and Ella Toone.
Galton broke the deadlock just 40 seconds after the restart, and Toone made it two with nine minutes to go.
United started the brightest of the two teams when Amy Turner looked to play Galton in behind Birmingham’s backline for an early chance. Moments later Jackie Groenen found Galton down the left, with the winger's fierce cross giving Birmingham a taste of what was to come from United’s midfield. Birmingham struggled to contain United’s attacking threat, often doubling up in their defensive shape.
Lauren James looked to add to her goal last week at Chelsea, cutting inside the box and blasting just over the bar from Groenen’s pass, and James was at it again straight after, this time being dispossessed on the edge of the box as Birmingham’s defence struggled to contain her threat.
United continued to trouble Birmingham’s defence with Galton, Groenen and James linking well, but unable to find an end product. Galton did manage to get a shot on target moments later, however, after a defensive error forced Hampton into a fine save.
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Birmingham rallied thereafter, as Claudia Walker’s cross for Emily Murphy was met by a strong punch from Mary Earps in United’s goal. The resulting corner caused confusion in our box, with the Reds relieved to clear our lines.
The half-hour mark saw Martha Harris’ injury comeback frustratingly cut short, giving way to Kirsty Smith, following a rib injury.
Back at the other end, Galton continued to push for the opener as her close-range shot was once again saved by Hampton.
Birmingham continued to frustrate United in the final third, proving difficulty to break down. There was time for two more United chances before the break - Groenen fizzing over in pursuit of her first Reds goal and Galton again denied by an instinctive save.
United wasted no time after the restart; James produced some fine skill before crossing for Galton to convert from inside the box to finally break the deadlock.
The Reds were now playing with more urgency and purpose, and Galton again threatened with a shot which flew narrowly wide after cutting in from the left.
With United pushing forward in all areas, Kirsty Smith found herself in an attacking position, forcing a save from her fierce left-footed shot. More chances followed with the game now opening up, but Katie Zelem was unable to poach a second after being found by James’ whipped cross. Toone then threatened with two fine efforts, the first from distance going narrowly over the bar and the second saved from close range.
With the additions of Ivana Fuso and Kirsty Hanson, United looked even more dangerous and, nine minutes from full-time, Toone pounced on a loose ball to cut inside and tuck away our second inside the far post to finish off Birmingham.
The Reds now head into the next fixture with Everton top of the table, having played two more games then Chelsea below us in second.
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United: Earps, Batlle, A.Turner, M.Turner, M.Harris (Smith 32), Ladd, Zelem (c) (Hanson 75), Groenen, Toone, Galton, James (Fuso 60).
Subs not used: Bentley, Thorisdottir, Sigsworth, Ross, Press.
Goals: Galton 46, Toone 81
Booked: Harris, Toone, A.Turner
Birmingham City: Hampton, Mayling, Scott (c), Littlejohn (McCarron 85), Brougham, Walker, Whipp (Kelly 85), Napier, Holloway, Lawley (Green 65), Murphy.
Subs not used: Cowie, Hart.
Booked: Littlejohn, Murphy Referee: Stacey Pearson.