Spurs Women 0 United Women 3
Manchester United Women eased to a comfortable victory against Tottenham Hotspur Women in the battle between the Barclays WSL’s two newly-promoted sides.
Kirsty Hanson’s deflected effort gave the Reds the lead after 13 minutes at the Hive Stadium and an own goal from Ashleigh Neville just after half-time made it two.
Substitute Jane Ross struck in injury time to cap off a marvellous afternoon which was only dampened slightly by Lauren James’s late sending off.
With Abbie McManus unavailable for selection after withdrawing from the England squad during the international break, Casey Stoney opted to make four changes to the Reds’ side that claimed our first-ever WSL win, against Liverpool two weeks ago.
Amy Turner came in for McManus, while Martha Harris replaced Lotta Okvist for her first appearance of the season. Summer signing Jackie Groenen was fit to start again in place of Ella Toone after missing our last two matches, while Kirsty Hanson was given the nod to feature in attack ahead of birthday girl Jess Sigsworth.
The Reds beat Tottenham home and away in the Women’s Championship last season, and started the better side, almost going a goal up within the first minute. A mix-up in the Spurs defence allowed James in and the 18-year-old forced a fine save from Rebecca Spencer. From the rebound, James’s second effort crashed against the post, before Hanson saw her snapshot cleared off the line.
United goalkeeper Mary Earps was quickly called into action to parry away Kit Graham’s strike, before Katie Zelem bent her shot just around the post at the other end to complete a frantic opening 10 minutes.
But Spurs were struggling to handle United’s threat in attack and, after another breakaway, Hanson beat Ashleigh Neville to a loose ball to put the Reds into a deserved 13th-minute lead, via a deflection off Ria Percival.
Leah Galton almost doubled our advantage after being given time to chest the ball down in the area, but her attempt flew just beyond Spencer’s far post. United’s central midfield trio were dominating the action, with Spurs’ high backline allowing them to regularly find the runs of James, Galton and Hanson in behind.
James, who opened her WSL account two weeks ago, was the major beneficiary, regularly finding time and space to test Spencer, who made a number of solid saves to ensure her side went in at half-time only a goal behind, despite United’s overall superiority, which saw us register 16 attempts on goal.
That number grew soon after the break thanks to a couple of early sighters from James, but it was a Spurs player who would eventually stretch our lead.
Galton sprinted down the left wing and crossed into the six-yard box and Neville, fearing the prospect of an easy tap-in for an oncoming United player, attempted to clear but in doing so clipped the ball into the back of her own net.
The home side’s most impressive player going forward was Graham, and she almost found a way back into the game for the North Londoners, cutting inside and beating Harris but just failing to hit the target with a shot that flew over Earps’s crossbar.
Rachel Furness then forced the 26-year-old into a stunning acrobatic save, with Earps tipping her speculative effort from wide right on to the woodwork and out for a corner.
With a quarter of an hour to play, Galton almost got the goal her performance deserved when substitute Sigsworth slid her in, but Anna Filbey hooked off the line after Spencer had taken some of the sting out of the initial shot.
James saw red for two bookable offences with just a minute left on the clock, before Ross bundled home her first goal for Casey Stoney’s side in injury time.
United: Earps; Harris, A. Turner, M. Turner, Smith; Ladd (Toone 79), Zelem, Groenen (Ross 85); Hanson (Sigsworth 66), James, Galton.
Substitutes not used: Mikalsen, Okvist, Green.
Scorers: Hanson 13, Neville (own goal) 52, Ross 90+2.
Booked: James, Zelem
Sent off: James