Tottenham Hotspur Women pummeled a hapless Brighton side 8-0 at Broadfield Stadium, with braces from Ashleigh Neville, Drew Spence, and Jessica Naz. It was a drubbing so severe Brighton’s Hope Powell stepped down after the game.
Rehanne Skinner kept the same formation from last weekend’s 3-0 loss at City with just two personnel changes—Tinja-Riikka Korpela replaced Becky Spencer in goal, and Nikola Karczewska returned to the starting lineup as striker. Against City, it was unclear what exactly this formation or these players were supposed to do, what they were supposed to accomplish. Against struggling Brighton, we likely saw the platonic ideal of what this side is supposed to be.
From the very first minute all the way to the last, our players took shots, attacked with confidence and bravery, won second balls, and created turnovers. Molly Bartrip opened the scoring in the second minute when she received a short corner from Angharad James, and sent in a lofted, curling shot over Brighton keeper Megan Walsh’s head.
For about 20 minutes, Brighton were still in the game, but then Nikola charged down Megan Walsh on a back pass, picked her pocket, and slotted the ball into the empty net. Brighton’s heads dropped after that, but instead of sitting back and protecting the 2-0 lead, Spurs kept going. Ash scored a peach of a volley, then assisted Drew Spence with a brilliant backheel into the channel, and we closed out the half 4-0.
After halftine, Rehanne Skinner introduced Cho So-Hyun and Jess Naz for Eveliina Summanen and Nikola Karczewska. In the past, we’ve seen our quality fall off in the second half, especially after substitutions. But this time, Spurs were intent on putting as many goals past Brighton as they possibly could. Ash grabbed her second after around ten minutes, heading home Celin Bizet’s tantalizing cross.
Just two minutes later, Ash’s powerful run to the touchline and cut back to Drew Spence resulted in a sixth. Straight from the restart, Jess Naz spotted Megan Walsh of her line (again), and ruthlessly chipped her to make it seven. Apparently three goals in four minutes wasn’t quite enough, because Spurs kept trying to score, and Jess grabbed an eighth goal in the dying stages of the game. Back at the other end of the pitch, Spurs defenders put in a late bit of work after a flurry of Brighton activity to close out the clean sheet.
Here are all the goals if you’d like to watch them back. I highly recommend it, there’s at least two or three goal of the month contenders in there. Here’s my favorite, just because:
Absolutely audacious from @jessica_naz #BarclaysWSL @SpursWomen pic.twitter.com/rOO75Ekmsh— Barclays Women's Super League (@BarclaysWSL) October 31, 2022
As thrilled as I am with this result, we obviously shouldn’t go forward expecting to murder every team we face. Brighton’s keeper, Megan Walsh, had an all-timer of a poor performance, and the rest of the squad didn’t fare much better. That said, there was a clear difference in how Spurs approached this game. Players got their heads up and made decisions a half-second faster, tried combinations, and executed attacking patterns.
“We executed the game plan to a t,” Angharad James told SpursPlay. “We wanted to start the game quick and fast, and if we had set pieces, it was ‘how quick can we get it in and play’ … That’s something we’ve been working on in the week, just to be quick off the mark and to set the pace of the game, to play our game. Can we get higher quicker? Can we get pressure on the ball quicker?”
Whatever they’re doing in training, it’s working. This game featured brilliant individual performances. Jess Naz had an unbelievable second half cameo, filled with brilliance and attitude, and absolutely deserving of two goals. Her first goal may have been my favorite of the day, showing the foresight to spot Brighton’s keeper off her line, and the ruthlessness to go for a seventh goal immediately following the kick-off after the sixth. She looked fitter and faster as well, and put in the defensive work even when we were 7-0 up—receiving a yellow card after pulling a Brighton player down who had wandered into a dangerous position.
Drew Spence also shone, scoring two goals and working hard to terrorize Brighton’s defenders all game. Manchester City may have physically overwhelmed Celin, but against Brighton, all her tricks and flicks came off. She and Ash absolutely terrorized the wings, and made it impossible for Brighton to let their guard down even for a minute.
We also finally got a first peek at Gracie Pearse! She replaced Molly Bartrip in the 71st minute, but ultimately played in Amy Turner’s usual right back position. She participated in a few nice attacking moves, and pressed and positioned herself well defensively. She even had a key block in our box, helping maintain our clean sheet. She wasn’t out of place in the side, and I really liked what I saw. In addition to Gracie’s first cap, we also saw Chi get more minutes after her suspension, and Rosella Ayane returned from the injury she suffered earlier in the season. It was the perfect opportunity for these players to get back up to speed with lower-than-usual stakes, and for some of our other players to get a bit of rest.
Well, what a lovely game! It feels like a switch has flipped, but we won’t really know until we face Everton next weekend. Tune in on Sunday, November 7th at 9:00 am Eastern/3:00 pm London time (I’m gonna be honest though, I don’t entirely understand what’s going on with the time changes, so I could be wrong about that) for what will certainly be a much harder test.