Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 1 United Women 5
Manchester United Women extended their lead at the top of the FA Women's Championship to four points, defeating second-placed Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 5-1 at the Cheshunt Stadium.
Two first-half goals from Katie Zelem and a third from Mollie Green at the start of the second period set Casey Stoney's team on track, before late headers from Jess Sigsworth and Leah Galton made absolutely sure of the points.
The top-of-the-table clash started brightly, with both sides keen to get forward from the outset and Spurs demonstrating why they have been the Reds’ main challengers throughout the season.
It was United who opened the scoring though, with just three minutes on the clock. Zelem picked the ball up just outside the area and took aim with a long-range effort. Spurs goalkeeper Chloe Morgan couldn’t get to it as it looped over her and into the net on a blustery day in north London to send the travelling 'Barmy Army' - inevitably already in good voice prior to kick-off - wild behind the goal.
It was 2-0 soon after, Zelem again the scorer. Our no.10 converted emphatically from the penalty spot after a lively Leah Galton was fouled by Megan Wynne.
Karen Hills’ side pressed high as they looked to respond; Spurs' top scorer Rianna Dean charged down Siobhan Chamberlain to create a half-chance and Coral Haines’ fierce effort from distance flew just over.
The hosts did pull a goal back through captain Jenna Schillaci just before half-time. Galton, in her haste to get back to defend, gave away a free-kick on the right wing. Aided by the wind, Schillaci’s delivery into the box evaded everyone, including Chamberlain.
United were perhaps lucky to still be ahead at the break. Set pieces again caused problems for the Reds' rearguard and Spurs' Renee Hector found herself in space in the area. The centre-back was unable to connect well enough with Emma Beckett’s teasing delivery and couldn’t direct her effort on target to test Chamberlain.
Green made it 3-1 to United less than a minute after the restart, applying a first-time finish to Galton’s low cross from the left.
That goal seemed to halt any attacking momentum Spurs had gathered just before the interval and the second half was really then all about the Reds.
Lizzie Arnot, who came on for Charlie Devlin just after the hour mark, did brilliantly to skip past Ashley Neville on the right and deliver a pinpoint cross to Sigsworth who nodded in United’s fourth.
This emphatic result means the Reds are four points clear at the top of the Championship; four matches remain, one of which is a game in hand over Spurs Ladies.
Stoney's side will now have more than a fortnight's break before returning to action with a home fixture against Aston Villa Ladies on Wednesday 17 April. Kick-off at Leigh Sports Village is scheduled for 19:00 BST and tickets are on sale from www.manutd.com/womenstickets.
United Women: Chamberlain, Smith (Harris 82), A.Turner, M.Turner, Greenwood (c); Zelem, Green (James 57), Toone; Sigsworth, Devlin (Arnot 66), Galton.
Subs not used: Ramsey, Palmer, Hanson.
Scorers: Zelem 3, 10; Green 46, Sigsworth 81, Galton 87.
Booked: Galton, James.
Spurs Ladies: Morgan; Green (Baptiste 66), Mclean, Hector, Dean, Schillaci (c), Wynne (Leon 59), Addison, Beckett, Neville, Haines.
Subs not used: Meiwald, Wiltshire, Gibbon, Filbey, Vyse.
Scorer: Schillaci 40.
Booked: Green, Beckett.