Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

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United under pressure after City defeat

Having begun to find a rhythm to their play with style and swagger, Manchester United’s capitulation against derby rivals Manchester City was surprising. With United five points ahead of their neighbours going into the game, victory would have hugely damaged any hopes City had of Champions League football and kept them with a foot firmly in the title race. Instead, United are off the pace at the top and have City firmly on their heels. Manager Marc Skinner pointed to the reason for the underwhelming performance: “I just think Man City have a lot of experienced players who have been around this league for a long time, [whereas] we’re embedding quite a lot of players.” He’s right: the experience of winning leagues and being able to get results in high-stakes games cannot be underestimated. United held out until Caroline Weir’s stunning chip in the 81st minute. Against Arsenal the preceding week it was a sublime pass from Vivianne Miedema for Stina Blackstenius to put in that denied them all three points. United need to see out games against the WSL’s traditional top-three but that will come with time, experience and the pain of these late concessions still stinging. Now their mettle will be tested in the race for top three. SW

Match report: Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0

Neville steals the show

It’s the Ashleigh Neville show and we’re all just here to appreciate the entertainment. The right-back was again at the heart of the Spurs attack in Sunday’s 2-0 win Birmingham, this time opening the scoring with her second goal in two games, nabbed when Emily Ramsey spilled Jessica Naz’s shot. Ria Percival got Tottenham’s second goal in the 85th minute but Neville remained the standout player, as she often is. The chart of her stats this year speak for itself: Neville is in the 90th percentile for expected goals for right-backs and has similar statistical excellence for her dribbling and ball-carrying. Her efforts on Sunday mean that Spurs are back in third place – above Manchester United and very much in European contention. MN

Scott’s overhead-kick magic

Ninth versus 10th in the league isn’t always the most exciting affair. But when it features an overhead overhead-kick assist from Jill Scott, what more can you really ask for? Everton v Aston Villa featured two teams who started dangerously close to the bottom of the league on 11 and 13 points respectively. A win either way would be pivotal and it was Villa who took the game by its lapels. They opened the scoring via Scott’s acrobatics and the finish by Emily Gielnik. Ramona Petzelbeger added to the tally, drifting in from the left to slide the ball into the far bottom corner. MN

Green shines for Brighton

Brighton have been desperate for goals, and they all seemed to have come raining down on Reading as they beat them 4-1. Kayleigh Green, who scored twice, brought much needed attacking spark to Hope Powell’s team – who before this result hadn’t won in 11 consecutive games in all competitions. Powell has tinkered with her forward options this season and usually prefers Danielle Carter as a lone striker. With Green promoted to the starting line-up, the Wales international certainly showed why she should keep her place. “Kayleigh was very good today, she didn’t want to come off as she was on a hat-trick,” said Powell. “I thought she was outstanding. She scored two goals and they were well deserved.” RO

Bedford’s rejig pays off for Leicester

Lydia Bedford has changed Leicester’s fortunes after switching to three at the back when taking over from Jonathan Morgan last December. It gave them their first 3-0 victory in the WSL against West Ham, as Natasha Flint and Ashleigh Plumptre put the team 2-0 up in under 10 minutes before Freya Gregory added the third in the second half. It’s been a revelation that has allowed the team to capitalise on their counter-attacking prowess. The formation means Leicester can play to their strengths with pacy forwards who can receive quick balls from midfield and mount attacks. It certainly was a day of lucky threes for Leicester. RO

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