Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

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Arsenal snatch point but referee’s touch irritates Eidevall

The decision of the referee, Abigail Byrne, to allow play to continue after she diverted what the Arsenal manager, Jonas Eidevall, described as “one of the best passes of the game” out of the path of the intercepting run of Jordan Nobbs and into the feet of Manchester City forward Lauren Hemp was strange. Hemp went on a marauding run and delivered a cross for Khadija “Bunny” Shaw to tap in to give City the lead after 65 minutes. City had dominated but Arsenal were right to feel hard done by. True, the team in possession of the ball did not change by the official’s touch but the rules seem pretty clear: if the ball touches a match official, remains on the field of play and a team start a promising attack, then play must be restarted with a dropped ball. “The referees should be professional,” said Eidevall, “and should be given all the resources that they need to prepare and practice and work on fitness and that’s where we need to focus. Let’s raise the standard around refereeing and give them the help they need.” In the end Arsenal snatched an important point in the title race through Tobin Heath’s injury-time strike. SW

Brighton come back to haunt Chelsea

It was Brighton who ended Chelsea’s record 33-match unbeaten run last February and 11 months later Hope Powell’s side dealt Emma Hayes and co another blow. The game this weekend had a familiar feel to the one last season. Chelsea should have scored through Erin Cuthbert early in the game, but her shot pinged off the crossbar. Chances for Fran Kirby and Bethany England were deflected by the Brighton goalkeeper, Megan Walsh, who was playing with echoes of Tiane Endler. The Seagulls defensive efforts meant that despite Chelsea’s 26 shots at goal - with five on target - they left Broadfield Stadium with the game ending in a goalless draw. Brighton had lost their previous six games and the coach, Hope Powell, said: “What better way to end a bad run than against the reigning champions.” MN

United need reinforcements to keep up title challenge

When all the chips fall your way it can be easy to settle. Manchester United’s 3-0 win against Tottenham on Sunday moved them into second place in the WSL and they stayed there as Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea all dropped points. The United manager, Marc Skinner, has worked wonders with the group of players at his disposal but now is the time for the board to back him and give him the resources during the the last few days of this transfer window to keep up the challenge for a place in next season’s Champions League and, whisper it, to vie for the league title. United coped without centre-back Millie Turner against Spurs but her potential long-term absence leaves the squad light and further injuries could derail the charge. “We’re working on [adding players],” said Skinner. “Our fans want it, we want it, but it’s got to be the right circumstances and the right people and, if not, then we work towards our team being the best version of themselves and they’re doing that.” SW

Birmingham shoot themselves in the foot

It felt like the moment Birmingham could get the win needed to move off the bottom of the table. They went 2-0 up against Reading and Jade Pennock was terrorising the home side down the right. And then it all went wrong. Justine Vanhaevermaet pulled a goal back for Reading just before half-time and in the second half a clumsy foul led to the equaliser before Emma Harries won it for Kelly Chambers’ side. Birmingham lost their grip on the game after starting well and the manager, Darren Carter, knows that the defeat was of their own making. “I’m very frustrated, I can’t lie,” he said. “I thought we were excellent, up until the goal we conceded. Either side of half-time, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot, conceding before and conceding after.” RO

Vasseur under pressure after yet another defeat

Everton will rue not taking their chances against West Ham with two efforts hitting the woodwork in the 3-0 defeat. Hanna Bennison aimed a wonderful right-footed strike towards goal but it was palmed onto the crossbar by Anna Leat in West Ham’s goal. The second attempt at 0-0 was even more frustrating as a header from Valerie Gauvin came off the underside of the bar. West Ham have not trailed for a single minute at home this season and with Everton failing to capitalise on a strong first half you can understand why they have scored only seven goals under Jean-Luc Vasseur, who succeeded Willie Kirk at the end of October. The pressure will be on Vasseur to get his side scoring again. RO

Own goals mar relegation scrap

If one own goal in a game is a gaffe, then two must be a calamity. Introducing Sunday afternoon’s relegation contenders Leicester and Aston Villa. The first came as early as the fourth minute from Leicester’s Jemma Purfield via a corner-kick scramble; no surprise given her team is one of the league’s worst away-goal conceders, with 36 conceded over the past two years. The Villa keeper Hannah Hampton then made Purfield feel better in the 76th minute with the second own goal of the game. It took a 94th-minute winner from the standout performer Alisha Lehmann to settle the game for Villa, very much in theme of their recent results. Lydia Bedford’s Leicester have now and they next face Birmingham in a game that could decide who goes down. MN

Pos

Team

P

GD

Pts

1

Arsenal Women

11

25

26

2

Man Utd Women

12

14

24

3

Chelsea Women

10

21

22

4

Tottenham Hotspur Women

12

2

21

5

Man City Women

12

10

20

6

Reading Women

11

1

19

7

West Ham Women

11

4

17

8

Brighton & Hove Albion Women

12

-4

16

9

Aston Villa Women

12

-18

13

10

Everton Women

11

-10

11

11

Leicester Women

13

-19

6

12

Birmingham City Women

13

-26

4

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