Marc Skinner’s Manchester United kept their winning start to the WSL season going, as the Reds picked up a dominating 4-0 win over Brighton.
Coming into the game at the back of a disappointing loss to Aston Villa in the FA Cup on penalties, Skinner brought back regular starters to the side but Nikita Parris kept her place upfront.
Lucy Staniforth also kept her place, as United started in a 4-1-4-1 shape, keeping Hayley Ladd on the bench. Katie Zelem started as the deepest midfielder, with Ella Toone, Leah Galton and Lucia Garcia starting behind Parris, alongside Staniforth.
The impressive pairing of Millie Turner and Maya Le Tissier kept its place, with Ona Batlle and Hannah Blundell starting at full back. The injured Alessia Russo watched on from the stands.
As it was expected, United started on the frontfoot and dominated possession and territory. They managed to keep control of the ball in the final third, but just lacked the final ball as a majority of possession came from the right.
Ona Batlle did the damage from the right flank, as her deep cross met the head of Ella Toone, who nodded it into the bottom corner. It was the sort of final ball that United were desiring for.
United’s second goal also came from deep, as Leah Galton run was picked out by Katie Zelem and Toone was making an advanced run. Galton picked her out and Toone finished it with aplomb with her left.
The combination of Toone and Galton brought about the third goal as well and it came from United pressing high up the pitch and Maya Le Tissier recycling possession after winning it back.
Toone received the ball between the lines and put through Galton, who finished easily for United’s third.
Toone had set through Nikita Parris a minute later and while The ex-Everton forward couldn’t beat the goalkeeper, she was offside anyway.
Brighton did have a chance to pull one back in the 58th minute but after a scramble in the box, Lee Geum-min’s attempt was blocked by Le Tissier. Danielle Carter also had an attempt blocked, leading to some penalty calls from the Seagulls, but they were ignored by the referee. It was only Brighton’s first genuine chance of the game.
After a brief Brighton spell, United grew into the game once again as Marc Skinner brought on Adrianna Leon, Martha Thomas, Ville Boe Risa and Hayley Ladd.
And it was Leon who got the fourth goal for United and Galton was involved once again. After being picked out by a long pass from the back, Galton beat the offside trap out wide and set up the on-rushing Leon, who comfortably beat Walsh.
Rachel Williams made a late appearance, making her United debut.
United saw out the rest of the game comfortably, controlling play from back to front.
The win meant that United climbed to the top of the table, tied with Chelsea at the pinnacle.