The WSL returned over the weekend with a bang as the teams played their second round of fixtures.
This week's results mean that Birmingham City, Liverpool and Manchester United are the only teams yet to pick up points; while Everton are sitting on top, on par with Arsenal and Manchester City, who are all unbeaten so far.
Around the grounds
Reading 0-2 Man City
Pauline Bremer's brace for Manchester City saw them take three points from Reading with ease. It leaves them joint top of the table with two wins from two. Reading looked disorganised at the back, despite a standout performance from Grace Moloney in goal. The former made two brilliant point-blank saves when the score was still level, the first coming up against Tessa Wullaert and the second coming from Caroline Weir.
Bremer's first goal was curled past Moloney wonderfully after some skilful footwork. But the lack of authority from Reading defenders stepping out from the back gave her the freedom to do so. The second ultimately damning goal came from chaos at the back, in which Reading failed to clear their lines and despite an initial save from Moloney, Bremer persisted, and the ball was bundled into the back of the net.
Kelly Chambers' side had their fair share of opportunities, with Maz Pacheco a particular threat coming from the back. Chamber's floated ball into the box was on a plate for Williams but for a last-minute intervention by Bonner who did well to get the ball away. Manchester City were ultimately too active for this Reading side and they have started their charge to the title with a 100% record.
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Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal
Casey Stoney's side was handed their second defeat of the season to a resilient Arsenal side, who fought to find a winner in the form of a late strike from Danielle Van de Donk. United will feel hard done by after putting on a spirited performance for 89 minutes – with goalkeeper Mary Earps proving why she was high up on Stoney's wanted list.
The game was scrappy, hard-fought and everything reminiscent of a battle between two sides gunning for success this season. Arsenal didn't look comfortable for most parts of the game, finding their own feet just before and just after the break. Had it not been for Leah Williamson holding together, their backline and cutting open United with her passing range, Arsenal could've been staring down the barrel of a defeat. Williamson is simply a world-class defender.
United's backline, including Earps, had a somewhat solid evening bar some moments – including the goal – managing to keep Arsenal at bay and looking as though they possessed no real attacking threat.
However, there were issues going forward, with Ross not offering a great deal spearheading their attack. It was clear that they missed the injured Jackie Groenen on the night, a player who has the ability to turn defence into attack and who would've offered United that little bit extra which could've seen them snatch a point or three.
Everton 2-0 Bristol City
Another pleasant day at the office for Willie Kirk and his seemingly rejuvenated Everton side. Chloe Kelly was the star of the show as she netted two absolute wonder strikes, leaving Bristol without a win this season.
Kelly's first goal was as a result of a delightful individual run at the Bristol defence and curling the ball in, pinging off the post. Within minutes, Kelly found herself in space once again and this time let rip from 30 yards – flying into the corner of Baggaley's goal. The Everton winger very nearly had her hat-trick late on but for the crossbar denying her and keeping the score at 2-0.
In both games, Bristol has struggled to be threatening on the attack and have seen their creative outlet limited and pinned back by their opposition – first at Brighton and now at Everton. Players like Lucy Graham (Everton) and Ella Rutherford (on loan at Crystal Palace) have shown to be a loss going forward for Bristol, but with their new signings still settling in it's only a matter of time before they hit the ground running.
Brighton 1-1 Chelsea
Chelsea dropped points down south over the weekend as they travelled to a Brighton side who struggled with form last season. In what was arguably the most significant shock result of game week 2, Brighton held Hayes' side to a 1-1 draw despite the latter throwing everything at them in the dying moments of the game.
Despite both of their opening games ending in draws, Brighton look a different side to the team who were on the brink of relegation last year. Cool, calm, collected with a real attacking threat along with defensive stability, especially with the signing of Megan Walsh.
Both goals came late on the game with Aileen Whelan getting on the scoresheet first with her half volley, stunning Chelsea. Just when it looked as though Brighton were destined to hold on and claim the three points in a smash-and-grab victory, Chelsea's pressure finally paid off when Engman was in the right place to slot home and salvage a point for the London club.
Games like this are a stark reminder of just how far the Women's Super League has come in recent years – when a club who just survived relegation in the season prior go toe-to-toe with one of the league's best, you know you're in for a treat of a season.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Liverpool
Tottenham claimed their first three points of their first season in the Super League following a victory against Liverpool – a side yet to secure a point. Spurs' win comes after suffering an opening weekend defeat to London rivals Chelsea in a narrow 1-0 loss, with England's unbelievable strike the only thing to separate the two sides.
Spurs dominated the game at their home ground, having a lot of possession and creating the majority of the chances – including six shots on target in comparison to Liverpool's one. The crucial change came in the final moments of the first half when Rachel Furness was brought down in the box by Becky Jane. The former stepped up to take the penalty and, sending Preuss the wrong way, scored the goal that was enough to give Spurs their first-ever WSL win.
Liverpool went on to finish the game with ten players after Niamh Fahey brought down Rosella Ayane with half an hour to go. Ayane was otherwise through on goal with a clear-cut chance to bury the game.
Vicky Jepson's side lacked creativity going forward and, despite the introduction of exciting attacking signings, things are yet to really click into place for them; at least not enough to worry the opposition. They could struggle again in their next fixture against rivals Manchester United.
West Ham 1-0 Birmingham City
It was a close game over the weekend with just one goal in it as the Hammers edged past Birmingham to claim their first win of the new season. For Birmingham, it's another game without any points picked up, but positives to be taken in spite of the result.
The game itself was evenly matched. Both sides shared their fair share of possession but in terms of attacking threat, it was Birmingham who dominated West Ham, with nine shots on target out of a possible 18. Though the stats tell one story, the scoreline tells another, and it was West Ham who took the lead after half an hour thanks to a sophisticated finish from Adriana Leon. They could've gone on to double that lead had Martha Thomas not placed her effort just full of the Birmingham post.
Tejedor's side showed promise going forward and even came close to an equaliser as Lucy Staniforth's long-range effort was parried onto the crossbar by Brosnan in goal. Ultimately, their lack of clinical finishing up top is letting their side down and could potentially be something that sees them struggle this season. They're a far cry from the team that finished fourth last season.
The next round of WSL fixtures will be played the weekend of the 28th/29th September.News Now - Sport News