Manchester United have marked their first-ever appearance at Old Trafford with a 2-0 victory over struggling West Ham United.
The game came fresh off the back of The Football Association’s announcement that they had forged a multi-million pound broadcasting deal with Sky and the BBC. Both events signal a strong commitment from several parties to the future of women’s football.
Manchester United struggled to break down the West Ham United backline in the opening period at ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ and also looked vulnerable in transition as they gave the ball away in key areas. Christen Press was able to power through the away side’s defence on one of the rare occasions that the hosts were able to get in behind. The American lifted up her head and tried to pick out Lauren James when she may have been better off shooting and the ball was snuffed out by Grace Fisk.
The home side came out flying in the second half. The Red Devils won a corner shortly after the interval which was headed back across goal by Maria Thorisdottir and James nodded in at the back post. The goal means that James makes another piece of history in becoming the first female player to score for Manchester United at Old Trafford.
She was then soon followed by Press. A neat reverse pass from Jackie Groenen put the United States international forward in behind and she finished emphatically to double her side’s lead.
Casey Stoney’s side very nearly had three goals in quick succession as Lucy Staniforth was played through but she couldn’t beat Courtney Brosnan when one-on-one.
West Ham United then threw caution to the wind and pushed forward with much more intent, forcing Mary Earps into a couple of good saves. Unfortunately for the East Londoners, any hopes of staging a comeback were quickly extinguished when Laura Vetterlein was given her marching orders for a second bookable offence as The Irons were reduced to 10.
The home side left Old Trafford with all three points to put some distance between themselves and Arsenal ahead of the North London derby later in the day. It also crowns off an historic day in their short existence as they marked their debut at Old Trafford with a victory.
West Ham United remain at the bottom of the table, trailing Bristol City by just the one point and given their resilient performance today, Olli Harder and his players will have plenty of belief going into the final few games of the season.