Manchester United got back to winning ways in the FA Women’s Super League on Sunday defeating Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at the Leigh Sports Village.
Although it was not the most convincing of performances, the victory could not have come at a better time as the team looks to build up a head of steam going into difficult cup ties against Manchester City and Chelsea.
Manchester United manager Casey Stoney gave her thoughts on the team’s result in the lead up to that crucial Manchester derby in the Women’s FA Cup on Saturday.
She said “I would probably say the scoreline flattered us a little bit.
“They had chances, good chances. Mary (Earps) made a massive save at 0-0, which was a big moment in the game for us.”
Stoney’s attention shifted to the positives that could be taken away from the performance against Spurs.
“I thought for the first 25 minutes we were far the better team.
“We were dominant but didn’t score and that’s what we keep saying, we’ve got to score our chances and we didn’t.
“They (Spurs) came stronger into the game. I think they broke our backline too easily at times if I’m honest and I’ll reflect on that defensively, where we need to be better.” i
“Still, even if the scoreline last Sunday may have flattered United Stoney doesn’t believe the result did.
She added “We hit the bar twice but I thought we were deserving of the win whether it was a 3-0 game or not.”
Despite failing to find the back of the net in the first half, United were able to take the lead through a penalty from captain Katie Zelem. Her set pieces proved invaluable in securing the three points as she also scored from the spot, via free-kick, and set up Jess Sigsworth from a corner. Stoney pointed out the significance in having an extra dimension in terms of goalscoring through set pieces.
“It’s important especially when we can’t break a team down and score in open play” Stoney said.
“We created chances in open play again and didn’t take them so you then start to rely on your set pieces and she executed them brilliantly.”
Less positive news from the fixture saw United’s number seven Ella Toone sent-off in the closing moments of the game after a confrontation with Tottenham Hotspur’s Ria Percival and Lucia Leon. However, Stoney was unable to add much regarding the incident.
Looking back she said “I’ll be honest I didn’t see it and that’s not just me saying it as manager, I was too busy watching Leah break and looking where Jess was to get in.
“I didn’t even see it until the whistle went.”
Toone will miss United’s clash with Manchester rivals City tomorrow but Stoney remains optimistic about her side’s chances.
“I think we’re in a good position” she confessed. “We know that we beat City here before in a cup game.
“We also know that they’re a very, very good team so we’re going to need to be at full throttle.
“We’ll have a good go, we’ll have a really good go.”
This is not the only significant cup tie on the horizon for Manchester United as it was recently announced that they will be facing Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Women’s Continental League Cup.
“I said it could’ve been any of the three because they’re all top sides aren’t they” added the United boss. “Doesn’t matter if you play Chelsea, Arsenal, or City they’re all very, very good sides and all established sides.”
The only wish that Stoney had regarding the draw was that her side were drawn at home, which they were.
“The fact that we’ve got a home draw is really pleasing because we’ve got a lot of travelling over the next couple of weeks having Reading away and Brighton away midweek” Stoney added. “To get a home draw was good and it’s a great cup tie to have, it really is.
“Again Chelsea are a top side so it’s going to be difficult for us but I love having this amount of games because it means that we’re doing well in the cups.”
This is the second consecutive season that United have reached the semi-final of the FA Women’s Continental League Cup and if they are able to add the scalp of their Manchester rivals, and the current holders, in the Women’s FA Cup, there’s no telling how far they could go in each competition.