FA Women’s Super League Round-Up…

It was another bizarre weekend in the FAWSL which concluded with none of last season’s top three occupying similar placings during the opening weeks of what is already proving to be an eventful start to the campaign…

Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea 

It was the Battle of the Blues this past weekend, and with it a display of exciting football alongside an altogether different display of officiating.

In what would prove an action-packed game, there was an early chance from Lauren Hemp, as her building link-up play from new signing Jill Roord began to pile on the pressure on Chelsea.

But it was Chloe Kelly, who hit a powerful long-range strike, set up by Mary Fowler, put her side ahead within the first ten minutes.

A booking from referee Emily Heaslip for Alex Greenwood’s late tackle on Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming started to weave an interesting web of decisions by the WSL regular.

Chelsea started to ramp up the pressure, with a series of strikes from Lauren James, Sophie Ingle and then Jess Carter all came closer to an equaliser.

It was the thirty-eighth minute when the game took a completely different route. Greenwood, already on a yellow card for her foul, was issued another yellow for time wasting and a sending-off for the defender.

The controversial decision and interpretation of the rules and action on the pitch led to strong protests from players and boos from the crowd.

As the second half began, City came out with intent, Kelly coming close with another long-range shot, pushed on by the crowd, despite being down to ten.

Midway through the second half, it was Hemp’s turn for a yellow card for dissent, possibly borne from frustration from the earlier events.

Chelsea did their best to take advantage of the depleted City, with a shot from James deflected off the bar.

Manchester City’s effort took another blow when Hemp took down James in her run on goal, and a second yellow for Hemp meant she joined Greenwood off the pitch, leaving City with just nine players on the field.

With further attempts and pressure from City, Chelsea looked like they had gotten the better of.

A header from Millie Bright couldn’t hit the mark, and a miscue from Sam Kerr suggested it may not have been Chelsea.

That all changed in the 96th minute when a Guro Reiten broke City’s hearts, a scramble in the box giving Chelsea their equaliser to see out the game.

A footnote to the fixture. The eleven cards issued by whistler Heaslip was a record for an FAWSL match and Manchester City boss Gareth Taylor felt this disrupted the momentum of the game.

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes was aware of the issues her side had had in the game. Speaking to BBC Sport she said: “Our challenge today was our final third play, that’s where we laboured and struggled. I’m pleased that we got a goal. I’m really happy for a point on the board.”

Speaking to BBC Sport he said: “Alex’s red card changed everything. It’s frustrating. It’s a difficult one to take as the girls were magnificent”

Next up for the teams, Manchester City host Bristol City and Chelsea host West Ham.

Manchester United 2-2 Arsenal 

Arsenal came to Leigh Sports Village with a point to prove after their opening loss against Liverpool. 

With two defeats at the hands of United last season and the added spice of signing The Red Devil’s star forward, Alessia Russo, it was sure to be an interesting match-up.

The Gunners came out of the gates on the front foot, with Stina Blackstenius creating the first big moment. She put her side head within fourteen minutes with a clever curving run at goal that helped beat Hannah Blundell in defence, and stay on side.

Arsenal continued to press well but were undone by a breakdown in defence. Leah Galton was on hand to take full advantage of a howler of a mistake by keeper Sabrina D’Angelo, making it easy for her to take one back in the twenty-seventh minute.

As the first half came to a close, it was all equal between the teams.

One of United’s new signings, Geyse da Silva Ferreira came achingly close to bagging her first-ever goal for the club early in the first half, but it was not to be on this occasion.

Arsenal fired back with an excellent run from Lia Wälti down the left and the resulting ball-in set up an almost perfect opportunity for Noelle Maritz but missed getting on the end of it by mere inches.

New signing Russo came close to beating her former teammate Mary Earps in three successive chances, all amid the boos from United fans.

But it was the home side who went ahead when French International Melvine Malard outran through the Arsenal defence to score in the eighty-first minute.

The Gunners pushed hard for an equaliser in the last moments of the game, and it was new signing Cloé Lacasse who turned up with the goods in the ninety-third minute. With some great footwork away from Gabby George, Lacasse got her first goal for her new club, with a cracking long-range strike that the keeper had no chance of stopping.

The last chance of the game came from Caitlin Foord when her chance was scuppered by a tackle in the box and a penalty shout that wasn’t to be.

This time it was United’s turn to be on the end of a last-minute surprise and the points were shared at the final whistle.

The Red Devil’s manager Marc Skinner was positive about his team’s performance. Speaking to BBC Sport he said: “I thought the players gave everything so when the players give you everything, I think it shows good luck. We always want to win but I’m proud of what the players have given.”

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall was pragmatic in his reaction to the result. Speaking to BBC Sport after the match he said: “The performance was big from us today. When we look back at it in total I think we should be a little bit disappointed that we don’t win the game as we had more clear chances than they do.”

In match week three, Arsenal host Aston Villa at The Emirates and Manchester United host Leicester City.

West Ham United 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion 

Brighton had won in their last six encounters with The Hammers, but it wasn’t to be a repeat this Sunday.

West Ham’s Kirsty Smith came close to scoring in the opening few minutes of the game, but it wasn’t long before the chance came again, and this time it wasn’t to be missed. Smith picked up a rebound from a previous effort, and she scored, despite Maria Thorisdottir’s attempts to clear it from the goalline.

Brighton did their best to equal the standings, with fellow Norwegian Elisabeth Terland’s excellent effort kept out by The Hammer’s keeper Mackenzie Arnold.

The second half was positive for the London side, and a pinpoint free kick by Lisa Evans, which found the head of new signing Riko Ueki doubled their lead – her first for the club.

The three points on the table are the first for new manager Rehanne Skinner and she hopes it’s the shape of things to come. Speaking to BBC Sport she said: “We want to try to dominate possession. It’s a building process and from last week to this week the desire and attitude is much more what we’re trying to achieve.”

Brighton manager Melissa Phillps knows it’s early days for her rebuilt team and they must focus to improve. Speaking to www.brightonandhovealbion.com she said: “We know there are areas that we will have to grow from every game, this league is incredibly competitive.”

Next up, West Ham travel to Kingsmeadow to face Chelsea and Brighton host Tottenham Hotspur at the Amex Stadium.

 Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Bristol City

Martha Thomas nets Tottenham’s first goal during their 3-1 win over Bristol City at Brisbane Road (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Tottenham Hotspur got off to a positive start against newly promoted Bristol City and gained their first three points of the season.

It was Finnish international Olga Ahtinen who put The Lilywhites ahead in the first half hour.

The Lilywhites continued their pressure and were awarded a second within a few minutes when Martha Thomas capitalised on a mistimed clearance by The Robin’s keeper Kaylan Marckese to double the lead

Bristol’s Carrie Jones came close to fighting back when her shot went flying over the crossbar.

Stoppage time in the first half proved costly for the visitors when Eveliina Summanen with a curling free kick found the top corner to make it three.

After the break, Bristol City were much improved and was able to get themselves on the score sheet. Amalie Thestrup converted from the penalty spot after Eveliina Summanen was deemed to have handled the ball in the area.

Bristol City have now faced defeat in their first two games back in the top flight and must work hard to turn around their fortunes.

The first win was a great boost for Robert Vilahamn at his new home. Speaking to BBC Sport he said: “Winning our first game which is important for us but mainly our performance. I’m very pleased with that.

Tottenham Hotspur boss, Robert Vilahamn (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Bristol City manager Lauren Smith took some positives from the game, despite the result. Speaking to Bristol City social media she said: “I was pleased with how we reacted, got together and worked hard.”

Next up for the teams, Tottenham Hotspur face Brighton at the Amex Stadium and Bristol City travel to Manchester City.