FAWSL Week 5: Round-up

On a weekend when the WSL showed solidarity with the players of the National Women’s Soccer League (pictured) over allegations of inappropriate behaviour by a prominent head coach, Arsenal became the only team to make it through five matches with their 100% record in tact; Spurs lost their perfect record at Brighton; Chelsea condemned Leicester to their fifth straight defeat; Reading bagged their first goals and points of the season against Villa; Birmingham also get off the mark with a point at West Ham; a terrific Manchester derby is drawn…

Manchester United 2-2 Manchester City

Lauren Hemp was named Player of the Match by former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis…

In a pulsating Manchester derby, United got their noses in front against ten-player City, but weren’t able to hold on.

City’s makeshift full-back Georgia Stanway was dismissed for a high challenge on Leah Galton in the 35th minute, but it didn’t seem to affect Gareth Taylor’s side too much as ‘Bunny’ Shaw’s header gave them the lead three minutes later.

The home side eventually found some attacking groove in the second period and substitute Lucy Staniforth equalised with a clever flick from Ella Toone’s left-wing cross in the 72nd minute.

Three minutes later United were ahead when Alessia Russo’s low shot from 12-yards crept inside the keeper’s left-hand post.

City sent young forward Jess Park on from the bench and her first meaningful contribution helped to restore parity in the 79th minute. Park hit a 25-yard drive towards the top left-hand corner that Mary Earps did brilliantly to tip on to the cross bar. Unfortunately for the United stopper the rebound landed in front of Ellen White and she converted for 2-2.

A full D2B match report is available here.

Prior to the upcoming international break, United travel to Durham for a Conti Cup clash on Thursday 14th October. When their players return from the World Cup qualifiers the Red Devils host high-flying Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday 7th November).

Manchester City have a home tie against Everton in the Conti Cup on Wednesday 13th October. Their next WSL game is away at bottom-of-the-table Leicester City, on Sunday 7th November.

Chelsea 2-0 Leicester City

Relief for the big guns: Pernille Harder (right) and Fran Kirby (centre) scored late to give the Champions victory over Leicester City…

On the weekend that Chelsea boss Emma Hayes was inducted into the FAWSL’s Hall of Fame, Chelsea laboured to beat a stubborn Leicester side who’d arrived at Kingsmeadow with no points on the board.

The Blues had been through the mixer midweek, recovering from 3-1 down to snatch a 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg in the Women’s Champions League. But the fall-out of that drama was in evidence here as they made hard work of beating the WSL’s bottom team.

However, once the result was assured Hayes had achieved her 100th win as Chelsea manager.

Foxes keeper Kirstie Levell was in good form turning Jessie Fleming’s 25-yarder around the post in the first half and then parrying Sam Kerr’s header from point blank range after the break.

Levell also needed a little help from her friends at times. Forward Jess Sigsworth cleared Magda Eriksson’s header off the goal line with Chelsea raising their intensity in search of a goal.

The visitors’ resistance was finally broken with seven minutes of normal time remaining. Erin Cuthbert fed Fleming on the right and the Canadian’s cross was given a slide-rule finish off Pernille Harder’s left boot.

Jonathan Morgan’s Leicester hadn’t registered a shot on target all game so a single goal margin seemed to be enough.

Chelsea took no chances, though, finding a second goal in stoppage time when Harder and Kerr combined to put Kirby in behind the Foxes back line. The England forward converted her third goal of the season (to go with five assists in 362 playing minutes) to propel the South Londoners into second spot in the WSL standings.

Focusing on one player… a left-field take from Emma Hayes on her team’s performance…

Chelsea will not play Conti Cup group matches because of their European commitments. So up next for the Blues is a trip to to Juventus on Wednesday 13th October for the second group match of their Champions League campaign. Juve beat Swiss champions Servette 3-0 last week and currently top Group A.

When the players return after the international break Emma Hayes’ side host Aston Villa on Saturday 6th November.

“It’s not going to be the same as last year where we win every week, and we have to think outside the box to keep the morale high and the motivation high. If you have a happy set-up and a happy squad, it means results will start to come and the performances will start to come. What we need to do now is convert that positive environment onto the pitch from Sunday and pick up victories. Once that happens, I think they will start to come thick and fast. Because if they can stay this positive now in a tough time, imagine what it’s going to be like when we’re finding our feet at this level.”

Jonathan Morgan, Head Coach, Leicester City, via lcfc.com (pre-match)

The Foxes are not in Conti Cup action either. They have a three week break before their next WSL fixture which will see them host Manchester City on Sunday 7th November…

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Central defender Victoria Williams celebrates her goal against Spurs…

Tottenham Hotspur finished this match at Brighton & Hove Albion with ten players on the pitch and their 100% campaign start in tatters.

Both teams traded distance efforts in the opening half an hour. Ashleigh Neville’s low half-volley from 25-yards drew a good save from Seagulls’ keeper Megan Walsh. At the other end Inessa Kaagman hit the Spurs cross bar after a good run down the left from Danielle Carter.

Brighton took the lead in the 37th minute. Lee Geum-min found Emma Koivisto down the right and, although the Fin’s cross was intercepted by Shelina Zadorsky, Lee arrived to stroke the loose ball into the net.

Walsh was well placed to deny Rachel Williams’ header at the back post off a corner.

Then Carter tried her luck from distance and was frustrated to see the ball crash off the horizontal.

Spurs’ forward Williams was sent off for a second bookable when she caught Fliss Gibbons with an elbow during a heading duel.

The home side looked to have wrapped up the three points with four minutes left when another Williams – central defender Victoria – met Maisie Symonds’ corner at the far post and fired in from close range at the second bite.

But Spurs ensured Brighton would have a fight all the way to the end when Kit Graham showed some good hustle to fend off three defenders, driving past Walsh from 15-yards.

Tottenham drop one spot to third with this result, while Brighton are back in the top five.

Looking ahead, the Seagulls travel to St Andrew’s on Wednesday 13th October for their Conti League Cup group clash with Birmingham City. Following the international break Brighton head further north on Sunday 7th November for a WSL clash with Everton.

“We are making positive change. As a group of players, we are always looking to improve and I think that we are improving. Some of the recent results have shown that, some of the recent performances have shown that. I see that the performances are improving, the players are more robust physically and in better condition so we are always striving to push on. I see the progress, the players themselves see the progress; the club see the progress. We just have to make sure that is consistent during the course of the season.”

Hope Powell, Manager, Brighton and Hove Albion, via fawslfulltime.co.uk (Pre-match)

Championship side Charlton visit the Hive for Spurs’ Conti Cup group match on Wednesday 13th October. Once World Cup qualifying is out of the way, Tottenham return to league action hosting a mouth-watering third v fourth clash with Manchester United…

Spurs boss Rehanne Skinner is philosophical after defeat at Brighton…

Reading 3-0 Aston Villa

(Left to right) See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil… Alternatively: Reading’s first three goal scorers of the season: Amalie Eikeland, Natasha Dowie and Rachel Rowe.

Reading scored their first goals, and claimed their first points of the season, with an excellent opening half at the Select Car Leasing stadium.

The Royals were two goals to the good inside twenty minutes. Rachel Rowe burst through midfield and released Amalie Eikeland to her right. The Norwegian shaped to cross but the ball sailed over Hannah Hampton into the net.

Three minutes later, Eikeland turned provider after some excellent pressing from Deanna Rose. Rowe received the ball on the right of the penalty area, got it out of her feet and drove past Hampton with the help of a slight deflection.

Natasha Dowie registered her first goal in a Reading shirt in first half stoppage time, and it was the best of a good bunch. Brooke Chaplen won the ball in midfield and found Rose ahead of her. The Canadian in turn threaded in Dowie, and the ex-Liverpool hotshot rifled past Hampton first time from 18-yards.

Villa were not at their best but did have a dozen attempts to score. Alisha Lehmann’s curling shot from the left that kissed outside of the far post was the closest they came to troubling the Reading goal.

“For us, it was just nice to get off the mark and get a goal on the board, which we hadn’t done this season so far. That’s what the players are capable of doing and I know that – I see it week in, week out in training and it’s just a case of making sure we deliver that out on the pitch, when it comes to game day. The girls left everything out there. They knew they needed to show that courage – it’s easy just to hide, be timid and hide behind others, but every single person, even the subs that came on, had a massive impact.”

Kelly Chambers, Manager, Reading, via getreading.co.uk

It’s got to be a bit frustrating for the Royals that they’ve just got their campaign kick-started and now are heading into an international break. They do at least get a chance on Wednesday 13th October to consolidate their form with a Conti Cup group tie with Bristol City but it’s not ideal.

Once their players have returned, Reading go to Birmingham City – who just got their first point of the season – on Sunday 7th November.

“Not good enough…” Villa boss Carla Ward gives a characteristically frank assessment of Villa’s defeat at Reading.

Villa need to lick their wounds and recover after a second consecutive heavy defeat. They travel up to Liverpool for a Conti Cup group match on Wednesday 13th October.

Then they’ll have to keep their fingers crossed that all squad players return injury-free from World Cup Qualifying, as they have to prep for a home match with Champions Chelsea on Saturday 6th November…

Arsenal 3-0 Everton

Arsenal’s Katie McCabe leaves another opponent on her backside. The Irish international has had a stellar start to the season…

Arsenal recovered from their midweek Champions’ League drubbing at the hands of Barcelona by extending their perfect WSL record to five with a comfortable victory over Everton.

In brilliant sunshine the Gunners set about Willie Kirk’s side from the off. Nikita Parris lifted an early opportunity over the bar and then Katie McCabe’s effort was thwarted by Toffee’s keeper Sandy MacIver, who made a fine diving saving to her right.

The Irish international wasn’t to be denied for much longer, though. In the 32nd minute Leah Williamson crossed from deep, Everton only cleared as far as McCabe and she controlled the ball off her knee before volleying it emphatically past MacIver from the edge of the penalty box.

Four minutes before the break McCabe provided the in-swinging corner delivery for Arsenal’s second goal. Lotte Wubben-Moy arrived at the far post and squeezed her header past a scrambling keeper.

The Everton stopper did her utmost to keep her team in the game during the second half, preventing Tobin Heath, McCabe and Beth Mead from extending Arsenal’s lead.

But there was little she could do about Frida Maanum’s strike after the Norwegian beat Izzy Christiansen in a 50/50 challenge and drove into the top right-hand corner from 25-yards.

“We still looked at exploiting the same spaces whether they were playing a back four or a back five. Sometimes they change in game too so we needed to be prepared for both scenarios and we were. I would say getting results without good football is boring and playing good football without results is pointless. We are happy to be able to do both. I hoped we would show a good reaction [to the Barcelona defeat], yes. We came together and looked at the game, why it happened, what we need to do better and what we needed to learn from. There was no blame, we use it as a lesson learned and we go forward.”

Jonas Eidevall, Head Coach, Arsenal, via arsenal.com

The Gunners are back in European action this week which, like Chelsea, excuses them from Conti Cup involvement at this point. Arsenal will look to bounce back from their Barça nightmare when they host German side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Thursday 14th October.

Jonas Eidevall’s side are back in league action on Saturday 6th November when they entertain West Ham United at Meadow Park.

Everton Manager Willie Kirk after his side lost at Arsenal: “There’s a lot of things we could have done better…”

Everton have a tricky looking Conti Cup group match at Manchester City on Wednesday 13th October, after which they will despatch their players around the globe for World Cup qualifying rounds 3 and 4.

Once Willie Kirk has his full complement of players back they will look to get three points from Brighton on Sunday 7th November at Walton Hall Park…

West Ham United 1-1 Birmingham City

In solidarity with the players of the NWSL – West Ham and Birmingham demand safety and respect for all female players…

Birmingham City fought tremendously hard at Victoria Road to grind out their first point of the season against in-form West Ham United.

In a game of low quality finishing it took something special to put the home side in front on 54 minutes. Hawa Cissoko burst out of defence with the ball and found Claudia Walker on the right touchline. The former Blue gained 20-yards, with three defenders in close attendance, checked her run and chipped the ball over Marie Hourihan from outside the penalty area.

Tameka Yallop nearly doubled the Hammers’ advantage, but Hourihan parried her angled effort at the near post.

The visitors equalised in the 67th minute from a right-wing corner delivery. Harriet Scott made a good connection but her header came back off the underside of the cross bar. Blue’s captain Louise Quinn reacted quickest to bundle the ball in from about a yard – a first ever professional goal with her foot!

West Ham upped their tempo to force a winner, without really creating a clear cut chance. Kateřina Svitková went closest right near the end, arriving to meet Zaneta Wyne’s cross from the right but miscuing her finish.

It would have been harsh on Birmingham who gave everything they to ensure the points were shared.

“We have been working on having more of an attacking transition threat and I thought today, we had that. When the players had to put their bodies on the line, they did and worked hard for each other. We are starting to gain momentum; the players will feel positive after picking up a great point on the road against a team that have been flying. We need Lou [Louise Quinn] involved in all dead ball situations because she is so dangerous. It was a good delivery and we had bodies going for the ball, she deserves a goal because she’s been excellent for us.”

Scott Booth, Head Coach, Birmingham City, via bcfc.com

Up next, Birmingham City host Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday 13th October in the Continental Tyres Cup group phase. After the international break Scot Booth’s side entertain Reading on Sunday 7th November at St Andrew’s. Both of these sides finally got points on the board in Week 4 so will be keen to get some momentum going.

“We needed to be more clinical in the final third. Giving up a goal on a set piece is always very disappointing – I’m not happy with the result – parts of the performance I was pleased with, but we need to be a bit sharper and more consistent. They deserve some credit because we weren’t good enough to break them down enough to win the game. Bottom line is we had great mentality and great attitude, but we lack the application – if you don’t have the application, then you don’t deserve to win.”

Olli Harder, Head Coach, West Ham United, via whufc.com

West Ham have an East London derby to prepare for at the London City Lionesses this coming Wednesday 13th October. After his players return from World Cup qualifying duties, Olli Harder will have to figure out a way to stop a rampant and unblemished Arsenal on Saturday 6th November at Meadow Park…

As it stood after Week 5, going into the international break…


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