Foxes Suffer WSL Defeat At Man Utd
One switch was made from last weekend’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup tie at Chelsea as Sophie Barker, who captained the side, replaced Georgia Brougham, with Sam Tierney moving into the back three to accommodate the skipper in midfield.
The home side came out of the blocks quickly and almost edged ahead early on when Ona Batlle crossed for Leah Galton, who fired over the bar. Ella Toone then struck a volley high and wide, before fellow England international Alessia Russo saw a low effort held by Demi Lambourne.
The opening goal arrived on 16 minutes. Toone drove forward with intent, laying the ball off for Batlle, who found Martha Thomas in the middle to turn the ball home.
Red Devils captain Katie Zelem fired wide soon after as the hosts looked to add a second, ahead of Thomas taking the ball around Foxes 'keeper Lambourne, only to drag her resulting effort wide.
Danger signs continued when Russo won possession back high up the pitch before shooting over the crossbar and United did manage to double their advantage via Russo’s finish, getting on the end of Toone’s well-directed cross.
Looking to spark Leicester into life, Freya Gregory charged down the left, firing in a shot that flashed narrowly wide of the near post, though there was little for the travelling Foxes fans to get excited about in the first 45 minutes.
Back at the other end, Toone tried to bend an effort into the corner but got her angles wrong, and Lambourne was soon called into action again to get her fingertips to Hannah Blundell’s strike.
Opportunities continued to flow for United in the lead up to the interval. Zelem’s cross was met by Russo, who headed over, but it remained 2-0 at half-time.
City needed to start the second half strong to have any chance of getting back into the contest, so when the ball sat up nicely for Natasha Flint to take aim, she tried her luck to no avail.
Largely, though, the second half followed a similar pattern. Galton turned inside to create United’s next opening, sending the ball wide after creating space for a shot. She also volleyed off target from Batlle’s floated cross, before a third chance for the winger - heading onto the roof of the net from Russo’s cross.
Gregory fashioned Leicester’s first shot on target, however it was comfortable for Mary Earps to deal with, and on the hour mark, United had their third goal with Zelem managing to find the net directly from a corner.
There was a rare foray forward for City which ended with Shannon O'Brien placing the ball wide of the mark, but they soon would fall further behind.
Incredibly, Zelem repeated the set-piece feat just four minutes later, finding the same corner for a second time to add her side's fourth.
CJ Bott replaced Abbie McManus - who was unable to continue due to injury - to make her Foxes debut, while fellow substitute Missy Goodwin almost supplied a consolation late on as her header flashed wide of the target from Jemma Purfield's cross, but there was no way back for the away side in the face of a ruthless performance from the Red Devils.
Lambourne, meanwhile, still had work to do to keep out Russo, who was also denied from close range by Bott's last-ditch block, ensuring the score stayed at four, but it was very much United’s day at Leigh Sports Village.
Katie Zelem scored two goals directly from corners inside four second-half minutes.
Once the hosts broke the deadlock in the first half, adding a second ahead of the break, it was always going to be an uphill task for the Foxes, and so it proved as United added two further goals in the second half.
Where do we stand?
Leicester were unable to break through United's defence.
City are 11th in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League with 12 points from their 16 matches. Birmingham City remain eight points behind the Foxes.
Another away game awaits for Leicester next weekend.
Leicester are back on the road in the Women’s Super League next Saturday, tackling Everton at Walton Hall Park (5:30pm kick-off).
City: Lambourne; Howard, McManus (Bott 61’), Tierney; De Graaf, Barker (c), Pike, Purfield; O’Brien, Flint (Goodwin 72’), Gregory.
Subs not used: Harris, Robinson, Boddy, Baker, Bailey-Gayle.
All times GMT.
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