The Barclays WSL returned over the weekend following a Conti Cup weekend last time around. The biggest fixture of the weekend came in the form of Manchester United and Liverpool as both sides sought their first win – meanwhile West Ham United hosted Tottenham Hotspur at the London Stadium for the first time in the club's history.
Manchester United and Liverpool met in the league’s only Saturday game, both in search of their first WSL points for the season. With United losing to City and Arsenal and Liverpool failing to defeats against Reading and Tottenham; this fixture had the potential to be pivotal in their league campaign.
The first half was scrappy and sloppy; littered with nerves from players as they took on the first United/Liverpool derby in the league’s history. Between Lawley and Babajide, Liverpool felt a real threat going forward with the latter being hard to defend against across both wings.
But come the second half, United looked an entirely different side. Every time they went forward it looked as though they were bound to score – the closest coming from a thunderous Lauren James effort who fired a shot off the crossbar. The breakthrough eventually came in the 70th minute after great link-up from Ladd and Sigsworth down the right, allowing them to play in 17-year-old James who calmly slotted beyond Preuss.
United put the game to bed in the latter stages after Leah Galton – who was one of the best players on the pitch – was brought down in the area and they were awarded a penalty. Captain Katie Zelem made no mistake from the spot and Stoney’s side secured their first points and win of their Super League campaign.
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With Saturday’s fixture complete, eyes turned to Sunday’s packed day of football which was topped off by West Ham and Spurs going head to head in front of a crowd of 24,790 – the second highest in Super League history.
In an historic moment for the club, they were defeated by two goals to zero against a clinical Spurs side. Rianna Dean got the first goal on her first ever WSL start - missing out on the previous two games through injury – and showed why she’s the key to this Spurs side going forward.
Lucy Quinn – on her birthday no less – secured the win for Spurs in the final stages of the game after a sweetly hit half-volley flew into the back of the Hammers net.
Three from three
Elsewhere in the WSL, Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton were looking to maintain their 100% winning records with the latter two facing each other while Arsenal welcomed a visit from Brighton.
Arsenal took on a Brighton side who started the season strongly, but Sunday’s performance was easily their best of the season yet. Struggling to find their feet in their opening two games, they put four past Brighton this time around. With Jordan Nobbs back in the centre of midfield and Leah Williamson controlling the game from further forward, they looked self-assured at the back and confident going forward.
Dutch forward Vivianne Miedema picked up where she left off from last season, getting herself a goal and two assists – while Nobbs also found herself back on the scoresheet. Kim Little and Danielle van de Donk were also on the scoresheet to secure the three points and take them to the top of the table on goal difference.
Manchester City and Everton – who came into the weekend joint-top of the table with Arsenal – were both on the hunt to maintain a 100% record.
An early goal from Steph Houghton ensured City would take the three points back to Manchester and keep them on par with title rivals Arsenal. Everton didn’t make it easy though and – in tough conditions – came close to equalising more than once with Chloe Kelly at the heart of their attacking threat.
City’s defence prevailed and they won their third game of the season and impressively recorded yet another clean sheet thanks to Ellie Roebuck between the sticks.
Back to winning ways
The final game came from Chelsea and Bristol City; both of whom drew in their previous WSL fixtures. With Bristol struggling to pick up any form, Chelsea were out to improve on their previous result of a draw against Brighton.
Hayes’ side ran rampant in the opening 20 minutes with Guro Reiten scoring twice inside 10 minutes and Ji grabbing the third. The damage had been done in the opening stages and it turned into damage control for the home side in an attempt to limit the number of goals scored.
Bristol never really threatened to get back into the game and struggled against a completely dominant Chelsea side – with Sophie Ingle getting a goal late on to top off a comfortable four-goal victory, taking them to third in the table.
The game between Birmingham City and Reading was postponed due to heavy rainfall impacting the pitch and it will be rescheduled for later in the season.
With the international break in full swing, WSL action returns the weekend of 12th October.News Now - Sport News