Manchester United Women finish the year on top of the Women’s Super League with a convincing 6-1 win against bottom-placed Bristol City.
Manchester United: Earps; Batlle (Harris 74), M. Turner, A. Turner, Smith; Groenen (Ladd 64), Zelem (Ross 64), Toone; Heath, Sigsworth (Fuso 54), Galton (Hanson 74)
Substitutes not used: Okvist, McManus, Bentley, Press
Bristol City: Baggaley; Allen, Palmer (Harrison 46), Evans, Purfield; Rafferty, Wellings, Logarzo (Bissell 65); Humphrey, Daniels, Salmon
Substitutes not used: Bryson, Haland, Collis, Wilson, Mastrantonio, Jones
Casey Stoney made four changes to the team that lost against Everton on Wednesday. Amy Turner, Ella Toone, Kirsty Smith, and Tobin Heath came on for Abbie McManus, Hayley Ladd, Jane Ross, and Lotta Okvist. Martha Harris also made her season debut in the WSL, coming on as a sub for Ona Batlle. The team has gone 10 matches unbeaten in the Super League, winning eight and drawing two.
Despite United’s convincing win, it was Bristol that had the first chance of the match. Their forward (and former United player) Ebony Salmon couldn’t capitalise on the through ball as she lobbed her shot wide.
After the initial scare, United quickly took control with a flurry of shots; Millie Turner, Jackie Groenen, and Ona Battle saw their chances thwarted by Bristol’s keeper. Tobin Heath rounded off a good attacking spell as she fired a howler from 30 yards, only to see it hit the woodwork.
United’s onslaught paid off, though, as Leah Galton put her team ahead with a screamer of her own. She got the ball from Katie Zelem, evaded two Bristol defenders, and fired the ball into the top corner of the net.
Looking to double their lead, United kept Bristol keeper Sophie Baggaley busy with a dominant performance. The pressure paid off on the stroke of half-time as United finally got goal number two. Zelem’s cross found Turner, who made no mistake as she gave her team a comfortable lead going into the break.
United continued their dominant performance early on, and had a penalty claim waved off by the referee. Jess Sigsworth fired the Reds’ third goal in the 52nd minute from a set piece, and Galton found her second goal 10 minutes later; Toone played a fantastic through-ball to Galton who easily put United 4-0 ahead.
Bristol managed a consolation goal not long after, as Salmon fired the ball past Mary Earps into the left corner.
With 10min left, United sub. Kirsty Hanson hit the woodwork right before Heath showed exactly why she was November’s WSL Player of the Month. She capitalised on a poor back-pass by Bristol’s defence and chipped the ball into the top left corner and shot the ball into the far corner moments later, rounding off a dominating performance by United.
United were thoroughly deserving winners of the match, and no doubt Stoney will have expected such a performance from her team. The win means that her team finishes the year as league leaders. United are unbeaten in 14 matches and will stay on top of the table, but the defeat for Bristol sees them at the bottom of the league with two points.
The Women’s Super League will resume play in the new year, with United returning to Merseyside to play Everton in their first match of 2021.