WSL: Five things we learned from the weekend’s action

Jessy Parker Humphreys looks at the big talking points from the weekend’s Women’s Super League action.

Good Preath what a strike force!

Manchester United 3 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

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You had to feel sorry for Megan Walsh. After another outstanding performance in the Brighton goal to keep the game at only 2-0, Casey Stoney brought on Tobin Heath and Christen Press. Immediately it felt like the game went up a level. Heath could have had an assist within five minutes of coming on, and she did get one before the game was up – a beautifully floated cross into the area headed in by Jane Ross. Press, likewise, had a moment where she looked through on goal but a heavy first touch let her down. You can only imagine what havoc they might wreak when they get 90 minutes.

Nobbs turns it around for Gunners

Arsenal 3 Bristol City 1

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Some goals should just be scored later in the game. Bristol City went ahead after four minutes as Abi Harrison capitalised on some lax defending and worse goalkeeping. Yet it was always going to be an immense task to hold onto that lead for the rest of the match. It was surprising they had held onto it 35 minutes later. But cometh the hour, cometh the Jordan Nobbs, to bail out Arsenal for the third game in a row. From then on it always seemed Arsenal would find more. But for manager Joe Montemurro, the questions around his choice of small squad are once again surfacing. With injuries already causing issues, there might be a limit to how many times Nobbs can save the day.

Brave Birmingham show true grit

Birmingham City 0 Chelsea 1

Source: @ChelseaFCW

In the week, Birmingham manager Carla Ward had branded the scheduling of their FA Cup semi-final as “ridiculous”. Facing Chelsea as Birmingham’s third game in seven days was almost certainly at the back of her mind. It was easy to expect Chelsea to blow Birmingham away, particularly after their FA Cup exit to Everton the weekend before.

Unlike many teams in the Women’s Super League who seem determined to press no matter the cost, Ward looks to be creating a no-nonsense team willing to put bodies behind the ball. With the caveat that Chelsea had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside, Birmingham allowed themselves to be in the position to threaten for an equaliser towards the end of the match. That kind of discipline, led in particular by Rachel Corsie in defence and aided by a spectacular performance by Hannah Hampton in goal, should leave Birmingham in good stead for the rest of the season.

Villa hit for six

Aston Villa 0 Everton 6

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The clearest example that Everton are ready to make the step up to the top end of women’s football has been their ability to rotate their squad over the past week. Valerie Gauvin shrugged off her super sub mantle to lead Everton’s line and with Hayley Raso on the wing, they carried out a brutal demolition of Aston Villa. Willie Kirk had been forced to leave Claire Emslie out of his successful FA Cup squad, but had said whoever missed out would still have an important part to play. Emslie scored twice to show exactly why she deserved to be in the starting XI. Kirk’s team show all the hallmarks of a side able to sweep aside anyone on their day.

Spurs stuck in limbo

Manchester City 4 Tottenham 1

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The hysterical excitement around Alex Morgan making a first Tottenham start was dampened before kick-off when she announced she was not quite ready to return to high-level football. When the teamsheet came out, it transpired she had not even travelled with the team. At least that prevented the cameras from cutting to her every couple of minutes as was the case in last weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal.

On the pitch though, Tottenham seemed stuck in the knowledge that Morgan might arrive soon. For the first half hour, they were able to limit Manchester City to pot shots from the edge of the box. Unfortunately, then Chloe Kelly showed that that wasn’t going to be a limiting factor for her.

Once they had conceded, as last week, Tottenham collapsed. They only managed two shots on target for the rest of the match, while managers Karen Hill and Juan Amoros continued to chop and change up front. Perhaps Tottenham’s forwards are as distracted as the rest of us waiting for Morgan to appear.

Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph

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