Following their 12-0 drubbing of Aston Villa on the opening day, Casey Stoney’s Manchester United side have continued to fly in the Women’s Championship, their only blip being the two dropped points against a resolute Durham.
Sunday’s visit of Tottenham offered their biggest test. Coming into the fixture with a perfect start to the season, the north London side are United’s closest title rivals. Yet from the first whistle the gulf in class showed. Stronger, fitter and technically crisp, the effects of a full-time professional side against even the best part-time team were clear as United brushed aside their challengers 4-1.
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A frustrated Spurs were broken 10 minutes in when Jessica Sigsworth dropped the ball at the feet of 17-year-old Lauren James after mazy run to the edge of the area. James looked for the gap, turned her marker and powered a low shot to the left of Chloe Morgan.
Less than 10 minutes later James returned the favour, Katie Zelem, instrumental in midfield, poked the ball wide to the former Arsenal player and she raced to the byline, swinging in a low cross for Sigsworth to tap in.
Chasing shadows in front of the vocal home support, Spurs were unable to trouble England’s Siobhan Chamberlain in the United goal. A hopeful run from Angela Addison ended with an exasperated cry as she was cut out by three United players with no one to pass to and nowhere to go, a summary of Spurs’ first half.
Akin to playground bullies, United continued to muscle forward and when a Zelem free-kick found Sigsworth at the far post, she headed in the Reds’ third.
Spurs can take pride in their defensive efforts in the second half but tired legs can only hold on so long and Charlie Devlin, on for James, let the ball run across her body before turning and shooting powerfully past Morgan for United’s fourth. A tentative foray into United’s final third two minutes later gave the visitors a corner and Addison headed a consolation past Chamberlain – the first goal they have conceded in the league – but it was not enough to stop United’s march.
On the basis this performance, United will walk the league. The best the rest can hope for the second promotion spot. If this is the most competitive game of the season for United, then the decision to allow a professional side to play in the semi-professional Championship has left a stark difference in quality.
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