Preview: Tottenham Ladies v United Women
It's a top-of-the-table clash in the FA Women's Championship this weekend as Manchester United Women face Tottenham Hotspur Ladies at the Cheshunt Stadium.
Last weekend saw the lead of the division change hands as the Reds' 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic - combined with Tottenham's surprise defeat at home to Sheffield United Women - allowed Casey Stoney's side to leapfrog Spurs into top spot.
After a goalless opening half against the Addicks, United came out firing at The Oakwood, with Katie Zelem slotting home her spot-kick before Jess Sigsworth's header doubled our lead. The Reds managed to see out the final 10 minutes after a late goal from Charlton's Kit Graham.
We still have a game in hand on the teams around us, and can aim to extend our lead with a victory against our fellow promotion rivals on Sunday afternoon.
Stoney's team can draw inspiration from when the two sides met back in November at Leigh Sports Village. Lauren James scored one and assisted another for Jess Sigsworth, who bagged a brace before Charlie Devlin struck home her first goal for the club in what was a comfortable 4-1 victory for the Reds.
Four months on, Stoney is aware that this will be another crucial fixture if her side want to achieve the ultimate goal of promotion to the Women's Super League in our debut season.
“It’s another game we have to win,“ she told MUTV after the Charlton victory.
“It was always going to have to be a must-win game [against Tottenham] and that’s how tight the title is. We concentrate on us. We prepare for us to win the game and it’s going to be another difficult place to go.”
A TALE OF TWO IN-FORM TEAMS
The Reds and Spurs have been the best two teams in the Women's Championship this season and, looking at both teams' home and away record, the form table as well as the league's top scorers, it isn't difficult to see why.
Sunday's showdown will see the club with the best home record in the division, Tottenham, go up against the side with the best away record in United.
Spurs have picked up 21 points from their nine home games at the Cheshunt Stadium, however their form is starting to wobble, having lost two of their last five fixtures on their own turf - against Durham in December and Sheffield United last week.
Likewise, United have garnered 21 points from our eight matches on the road, with our only defeat coming against Durham in December. The Reds haven't lost a league game since and Stoney's side have conceded just two goals in that time.
Furthermore, players from both sides are also very much in the hunt for the FA Women's Championship Golden Boot. Our very own Ella Toone is tied at the top alongside Tottenham midfielder Rianna Dean with 13 goals each. Over their shoulders are two more Reds in Mollie Green and Jess Sigsworth - the latter returning to form with three goals in the last two games.
Following Sunday's fixture is the final international break of the campaign, with Toone and Greenwood selected for the England Under-21s and the senior squad respectively. Once they and the players reconvene, it's the final push to the end of the season with games against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Millwall and Lewes to come for Stoney's side.
Meanwhile, our final match of the season - against Lewes at Leigh Sports Village - has been moved back to Saturday 11 May, with a kick-off time of 17:30 BST.