Tottenham Hotspur Women are flying high in the WSL and maintained their hot start on Sunday with an important 2-0 win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Spurs got a scrappy first half goal from Rachel Williams and added a late second from substitute Angela Addison, as they improved to 4-0 in the WSL for the first time ever and maintained their position at the top of the table behind Arsenal on goal differential.
Tottenham’s defense has been their real strong suit this season, and they started with only one change from the side that defeated Reading last week as Kerrys Harrop came in for Asmita Ale. Chioma Ubogagu made her second consecutive start for Spurs on the left side of the attacking band along with Jessica Naz and Rachel Williams.
Leicester are a newly promoted side experiencing their first ever taste of WSL action and predictably have found life somewhat difficult in the top flight. Throughout the match, Spurs looked like a veteran, tested squad, which they are but only by comparison.
Tottenham kept possession of the ball for much of the first half and tested Leicester’s defense inside 10 minutes after a ricocheted Kit Graham shot fell to midfielder Percival, who flashed wide. Rachel Williams continued her impressive early form for Spurs and looked to be the most dangerous Tottenham attacker in the opening 45, narrowly missing on a diving header at 27’ and having a dangerous half volley in the box barely deflected away.
It was Williams who provided the breakthrough seven minutes before the halftime whistle, poking home a scrappy goal off of a Spurs corner. Leicester keeper Kirstie Levelle ineffectually punched at the ball as it came past her, Ashleigh Neville had a chance blocked, but Williams was in the right place to punch it into the net.
Percival nearly added a second for Spurs two minutes later on another corner after she wiggled free of her defender for an open header, but her shot was saved by Lavelle.
It was more of the same in the 2nd half as Spurs continued to pile pressure on Leicester’s defense and never really looked uncomfortable at any point. With a quarter hour to go, Spurs produced a number of chances from Percival and Kit Graham, but Ria forced a diving save from Lavelle and Graham inexplicably put a good chance wide after some nice interplay with Maeva Clemaron inside Leicester’s box.
The insurance goal didn’t come until near the end on the counter and through some exceptional team play. Neville started the sequence by intercepting a pass inside her own half, then slid to punch the ball in stride to a streaking Rosella Ayane, a 2nd half substitute. Ayane cut inside to find Williams on a three-on-two break who squared the ball to a wide open Angela Addison. The substitute made no doubt of the shot to make the match 2-0.
Leicester weren’t entirely toothless and had a few half chances, mostly from set pieces and corners, but none that especially tested Becky Spencer in Tottenham’s goal. It ended up being as comfortable an away win as you could ask for in the WSL. The final score was 2-0.
- Any win is a good win in the WSL, and Spurs have started off hot. That said, it’s tough to know just exactly how good Spurs are — as important a win as the victory over Manchester City was a few weeks ago, City are floundering after falling to West Ham at the weekend, and Spurs’ other wins have all come against the teams at the bottom of the table. Spurs are almost certainly well behind Arsenal and Chelsea, but this is an improved Tottenham team. Top five would be a fantastic result based on current form, but it’s a long season.
- Spurs’ defense is real and looks solid. The CB partnership of captain Shelina Zadorsky and Molly Bartrip looks rock solid and it wouldn’t surprise me if Spurs don’t give up many goals to anyone but the top teams.
- The offense? Still a work in progress. Williams and Ubogagu are providing the bulk of the action going forward, along with Kit Graham. Ria Percival loves a late run in from behind and has a shot on her as well. Finishing is still a problem, though Spurs seem to be reverting a bit to the mean after last season’s struggles.
- Ashleigh Neville had another strong match at LB. Her tackle and sliding kick were what started Spurs’ move for the second goal, and she was solid positionally against an admittedly not terribly good Leicester attack.
- The bench play was the difference for Spurs late, as both Ayane and Addison provided some devastating speed running against tired legs. It’s hard to see either dislodging the likes of Graham and Williams from the starting XI but they are wonderful talents to bring on as relief.
- Spurs will try to make it 5-0 when they travel to face Brighton & Hove Albion next Sunday. Kick-off is 9 a.m. ET / 2 p.m. UK, streamed on the FA Player.