United had last won a league game on the 23rd of January against Tottenham, and while they were not helped by a tough run of fixtures, they had not only drawn once and that result came against Arsenal. Skinner’s side picked up consecutive losses to Manchester City and following the latest defeat in the FA Cup, the 38-year-old had spoken sternly about the players’ inability to win individual duels.
Fittingly enough, Skinner sent out an unchanged side against the Foxes on Saturday in the hope of a response from the same starting XI.
United began strongly, almost as if Skinner’s words last week had made an immediate impact. They could have gone in front in the fourth minute, if Leah Galton hadn’t fired over Martha Thomas’ cross.
About ten minutes later though, it was Thomas herself who opened the scoring for the Reds. She was set up by a gem of a cross from Ona Batlle from the right, after the play was switched to the right quickly. Alessia Russo got the second for United soon after she met Ella Toone’s cross the highest to head home from close range.
While Leicester didn’t offer any threat on the ball and United limited their chances and time on the ball, the Reds kept pushing for more.
Freya Gregory and Jemma Purfield did have one chance each to pull one back before half time but United went back into the tunnel with a secure 2-0 lead, after left-back Hannah Blundell was superbly denied in the last minute of the half.
Russo, who impressed throughout her involvement in the game, created a quality chance from down the left for Leah Galton, who headed just over. While both of them did cause problems for Leicester, it was captain Katie Zelem who pulled out a sensational goal for the second time in just as many weeks.
The English midfielder scored directly from the corner and the 26-year-old did it once again some minutes later, scoring from a corner thrice in two games. At both the attempts, Zelem’s inswinging corners crept into the far post, going up and beyond everyone else in the box.
Substitutes Ivana Fuso and Martha Harris had really good chances to get a goal for themselves late in the game. Fuso fluffed her shot over the crossbar in stoppage time, after Harris had almost set up Russo, but the United forward missed the chance to get her second.
The Reds climbed up to third in the league once again, with fourth-placed Tottenham having a game in hand and being only a single point behind United. While Chelsea are just one point above United, the Blues have a couple of games in hand.