Did you watch it? Tottenham Hotspur Ladies played their first match this season that was publicly viewable online (that I’m aware of), playing Manchester United Women at Leigh Sports Village, a match that was streamed on Manchester United TV. Unfortunately, despite good support from the traveling Spurs supporters, a very strong United team put in a dominant performance, seeing off Spurs 4-1 and handing the Ladies their first defeat of the FA Women’s Championship season.
The match was billed as a meeting of unbeatens, with Spurs heading into the match at the top of the table with a 5 point lead over United. But this Red Devils team is a phenomenal one despite only coming into existence this season, and also had the home-field advantage at Leigh Sports Village.
Spurs came out and went straight at United from the opening kick, pressuring high and trying to force United’s midfield into mistakes, but that strategy didn’t last long. United were able to settle things down and teenage forward Lauren James put the home side up 1-0 in the 7th minute with a low shot from the top of the box past Spurs keeper Chloe Morgan, thanks from an assist from fellow striker Jessica Sigsworth.
11 minutes later, James returned the favor for Sigsworth, playing her in, and Sigsworth grabbed United’s second goal.
Down two goals in under 20 minutes, Spurs looked rattled and United started to turn the screws, establishing dominance in midfield and keeping Ladies from getting anything going offensively. Rianna Dean in particular had a quiet night — the Spurs striker, who headed into this match leading the league in goals scored, was kept particularly strong by a United defensive line that has rarely conceded shots this season, much less goals.
Just before halftime, United added more misery — a free kick from United captain Alex Greenwood found Sigsworth who was wide open at the back post and who headed past Morgan for her brace. Spurs went into halftime trailing 3-0 and looking demoralized.
It was much of the same in the second half, though Spurs dropped back into a defensive crouch for the majority of the second period trying not to concede a fourth. It took until the 84th minute before United got their goal, with substitute Charlie Devlin stroking home a cross from Leah Galton.
But two minutes later, Spurs got their consolation goal on a set piece — midfielder Angela Addison took advantage of a United defense that momentarily fell asleep and made a run to the back post, heading home Spurs’ only goal from a corner kick. It was the first time that United had conceded a goal all season.
Spurs had a spring in their step for the last few minutes of the match, with Addison and substitute Bianca Baptiste both going close again, but it was too little too late. United sent Spurs to their first defeat of the season, with the final score 4-1.
Thoughts on the match
- It’s worth mentioning again just how good this United team is. They may be new, but they have young, full international caliber talent, and are the only fully professional team in the FAWC. They will probably walk the league this season. Spurs, despite the loss, look like the most likely club at this point to finish second and perhaps promote to the WSL.
- Spurs were completely outclassed, but you can see the talent they have on their team. Quite a few passing mistakes, especially in midfield, but they were also under a lot of pressure for the entire match.
- Rianna Dean is Spurs’ best scoring threat, but United kept her extremely quiet to the point where she barely even touched the ball.
- I was impressed with Spurs Ladies defender Ashleigh Neville, Spurs’ POTY last season, who threw herself around to make defensive plays and tackles. Chloe Morgan also had a fine game in goal despite letting in four goals — she had several big saves in the second half.
- Bianca Baptiste and Lucia Leon were both offensively-minded substitutions made late in the match when the result was already predetermined, but they both added a spark to Spurs’ offense.
- This was definitely worth the $5 I paid to Manchester United for a MUTV subscription. It was great watching Spurs Ladies play, and I hope there are additional opportunities to see the Ladies play again online. Make it happen, Spurs!
- (Does Manchester United Women refer to themselves as Womanchester United? Because they totally should.)