Manchester United moved to the top of the women’s Premier League as late Ella Toon beat Arsenal to give them their first mega win over one of the top three teams.
Arsenal have struggled to cope with United’s intense pressure from the start, but it looks like the home side will leave missed opportunities with time and tired legs.
Casey Stoney’s squad was starting out the brighter of the two, playing hard and biting that left the league leaders confused and under pressure from the moment they would save possession in passing. Just half an hour before, US duo Tobin Heath and Kristen Press met for their first meaningful opportunity as Victoria Schneiderbeck slipped a precise pass to kick the ball from Bryce’s feet before she could shoot.
Moments later, the press scored another goal, dropping the ball in the middle of the penalty area, but pressure from Lea Williamson stopped the shot and goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger fired it with her foot.
Maybe there was more hype around Alex Morgan’s arrival at Tottenham, Med Mewis and Rose Lavelle in Manchester City, all the World Cup winners in the US, plus Danish striker Burnell Harder at Chelsea, but perhaps the quick merger between Brace and Heath was Stoney’s setup Which was the most impressive and most natural fit.
Former defender Stoney built from behind. In its founding squad it was the bulk of Liverpool’s defense that it played and the spread of talented youngsters ahead of them. These youngsters have evolved, but the addition of Brace and Heath adds a level of coolness, experience, and star quality to their attack.
United finished fourth in their first season at the World Series of Poker, but were 13 points behind Arsenal in third place, even though they played fewer matches as the season was interrupted. This time they already got a point from Chelsea but the moral win against the WSL giants to show that the club is starting to bridge the gap between the best and the rest has eluded them. In their three matches against last season’s WSL League title rivals, they lost each time, 1-0 at Chelsea and Manchester City while a late goal by Daniel Van de Dunk gave Arsenal the preference in the league match.
In the rainy Lee Sports Village, United kept the pressure off after a break. Arsenal coach Joe Montemoro, frozen in bunker, shouted, “Get the ball,” frustrated with his hooked team.
The introduction of Kim Little and Jill Rourd, who both returned from injury in the midweek Arsenal match in the Continental Cup, swung momentum behind the visiting team, and as the hour passed, Katie McCabe’s ball bounced from the left flank to the goal from the heel. Caitlin Foord only to Mary Earbes to flip it around the near post.
With United’s profligacy appearing to be expensive, a superb pass from Jess Sigsworth on the right found Toone and the striker curving his shot out of Zinsberger to end the visitors’ record 100%.