Action from the friendly in Norway against Valerenga for United Women.

United Women defeated in Valerenga friendly

A hat-trick from Cameroon international Nchout Njoya Ajara meant Manchester United Women’s first pre-season match ended in defeat against Valerenga in Norway.

An unfamiliar back-four started the match, with winger Kirsty Hanson at left-back and Aimee Palmer slotting in alongside captain for the evening, Millie Turner.

And United were behind with only five minutes on the clock. The ball fell to former Everton midfielder Jenna Dear outside the Reds’ penalty area, after a fantastic block from Leah Galton just moments earlier. Dear chanced her arm from range and found her luck was in, a mistake from Emily Ramsey gifting the hosts an early lead.

It was 2-0 shortly after, this time, there was nothing Ramsey could do to stop a venomous shot from just outside the box from Njoya.

New signings Hayley Ladd and Jane Ross made their debuts for United, who were without the returning England World Cup contingent of Alex Greenwood, Abbie McManus and Mary Earps, as well as World Cup finalist Jackie Groenen - who took to the pitch with Netherlands team-mate and Valerenga midfielder Sherida Spitse at half-time to talk to the 7,124-strong crowd in Oslo.
The team line up for a photo before kick-off.
The United team line up for a photograph before kick-off.
Valerenga, currently fifth in Toppserien Women, are midway through their season and, at times, it showed, as they were slick in possession and just that little bit sharper than a United side at the start of our preparations.

But Casey Stoney’s team were physical and determined in their efforts to get back into the match, pulling a goal back through last season’s top scorer Jess Sigsworth. Our no.9 is unlikely to have an easier finish all season, tapping home from barely a yard out after Ella Toone’s shot was spilled by Guro Pettersen onto her foot.

It was 2-1 at the break and though there were no changes in personnel for either side, the manager switched Galton and Hanson on the left, the former dropping to full-back. Though early signs were positive, with Hanson causing the home side problems in a more advanced position United, couldn’t work an opportunity for an equaliser before Njoya’s second of the night.

Smart footwork and a penetrating run down the left by Rikke Madsen allowed her to cut back for Njoya, whose excellent turn in the box deceived Hanson, giving her the time and space to slot past Ramsey.

The same players combined again to make it 4-1 with 15 minutes left to play.
Speaking to MUTV after the match, Casey Stoney said it was a good test for her side, despite the disappointing result.

“This is what we came here for,“ she said. ”We needed this tonight, it grounds us. It’s about working hard and learning lessons from this game and working on cohesion.

“They are halfway through their season, we’re two weeks into ours. We had some inexperienced players and we’re making sure we’re managing others. We need to look after the basics.

“I always talk about standards and I don’t think we kept to our standards tonight. There’s no excuses for us, we need to be better. It’s my job now to make sure we’re better.”

Academy players Charlotte Newsham and Maria Edwards also made their debuts. United’s next match is on Saturday against Sandefjord.

Lauren James turns on the ball.
Lauren James turns away from her marker in style.
TEAMS

United Women: Ramsey; Smith (Edwards 87), M. Turner (Newsham 77), Palmer, Hanson; Ladd (Green 57), James, Toone; Galton, Sigsworth, Ross (Arnot 61).

Sub not used: Earps

Goal: Sigsworth 24

Booked: Ladd

Valerenga Women: Pettersen, Sondena,, Reinas, Waldus, Dear, Dowie, Ludvigsen, Stefanovic, Pedersen, Madsen, Njoya.

Subs: Spitse, Christiansen, Dalgard, Huse, Hauge, Ildhusoy, Seabert

Goals: Dear 5, Njoya 9, 63, 74

Attendance: 7,124

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