Manchester United Women are back on top of the Women’s Super League with a 2-0 win against Birmingham City.
Manchester United: Earps, Batlle, A.Turner, M.Turner, M.Harris (Smith 32), Ladd, Zelem (c) (Hanson 75), Groenen, Toone, Galton, James (Fuso 60)
Substitutes not used: Bentley, Thorisdottir, Sigsworth, Ross, Press
Birmingham: Hampton, Mayling, Scott (c), Littlejohn (McCarron 85), Brougham, Walker, Whipp (Kelly 85), Napier, Holloway, Lawley (Green 65), Murphy
Substitutes not used: Cowie, Hart
There were a few changes to the United lineup, with Martha Harris back in action alongside captain Katie Zelem. Kirsty Smith, Kirsty Hanson, Jess Sigsworth and Christen Press all started on the bench and, notably, Tobin Heath and Abbie McManus were missing as well; Heath still shaking off an injury and McManus now on loan at Spurs for the rest of the season.
United started stronger as Amy Turner nearly played Leah Galton from behind Birmingham’s defence for an early chance. Moments later, Jackie Groenen’s cross found Galton but to no avail.
Lauren James cut inside the box and fired in a shot just over the bar from another pass by Groenen, and moments later she was at it again only to lose possession. She was definitely looking to add to her list of goals, while Birmingham’s defence struggled to cope with United’s onslaught with some amazing link-up by Galton, Groenen, and James.
Despite the mounting pressure, United’d first shot on target from Galton was saved by Birmingham’s keeper Hannah Hampton.
The visitors switched to a back five and were able to put some pressure on United shortly after. Mary Earps punched away Claudia Walker’s cross for a corner, and the confusion that ensued shook up the United defence.
Galton continued her search for goal on the other end, but her close-range shot was easily saved by Hampton. United had a few more chances before halftime, with Groenen firing the ball just over and Galton forcing another save from Hampton.
United broke the deadlock seconds into the restart, 40 to be exact. James crossed the ball to Galton, who flicked the ball past Hampton to give United the lead.
Looking for another goal, Galton’s shot whizzed just wide and Kirsty Smith forced another save from Birmingham. Despite the mounting pressure, United couldn’t extend their lead as Zelem and Ella Toone both came up empty.
United looked increasingly dangerous as time ran out. With nine minutes left, Toone capitalised on a loose ball to fire it neatly into the far post for United’s second goal.
What started off as a frustrating game eventually turned to United’s favour as they broke down Birmingham’s defence. Birmingham struggled to get into the game as they got just one shot (not on-target). United could have easily extended their lead had it not been for Birmingham’s keeper, whose heroic saves limited United to just two goals.
Man United Women returned to the top of the Super League with this victory, but second-place Chelsea are just three points behind, with two games in hand. United head to Merseyside next, to play their rescheduled match against Everton.