Leicester women faced top of the table Manchester United. The Foxes are down a few players with O’Brien out due to injury and Carrie Jones ineligible to play against her home club. Foxes look to bounce back at home after a defeat last week against Manchester City. City are still searching for their first point of the season. The only goal this season was an own goal in the opening match against Tottenham.
Bedford reverted to three (or five) at the back after last week’s loss. Tierney slotted back in between Howard and Plumptre with a noticeable improvement in the back line. The shape was something like a 3-4-1-2, with Simon, Purfield, Green, and Pike made up the midfield. Whelan slots in behind the top two with Flint and Goodwin up top. Goodwin replaces Carrie Jones in the lineup.
First 20 minutes saw the two sides more evenly matched. Then Man United began to retain possession and Foxes only chances were on the counter. Leicester had chances in the first half, but couldn’t find the final piece to get a goal. This is more encouraging play compared to last week. Manchester United applied a lot of pressure in the first half and Leicester did well to keep it to one goal for the half.
Leicester started the second half on the front foot. Set pieces giving them opportunities with Purfield’s delivery spot on, but the inability to finish persists. Green had the best chance of the match on a half volley from a corner. Earps was able to get her gloves on it though. Another corner shortly after saw Plumptre get a head on it, to fall to Whelan with Earps again scrambling and scooping it up before the Foxes could toe it in. Ten minutes later saw Whelan and Simon finally vibing again allowing Simon to get a well-placed cross off. The cross found Flint’s head as the target, but Earps was there for the save.
Leicester have not won or drawn in five matches, ending the day stuck at the bottom of the table. Watching them play today against the team at the top of the table, they don’t look like the relegation side. They’ve been a bit unfortunate, and still have Jess Sigsworth and Lachante Paul out due to injury. Flint nor O’Brien bring the same quality as Sigsworth. Outside of those options, Bedford only has a very young group to choose from up top as Jones, Goodwin, and Baker are all teenagers.
Positives are that set pieces still provide some of Leicester’s best opportunities to score. Purfield continues to deliver these into good spots. The veteran players will need to do better with their end result if they want to pick up any points from a match. Whelan continues to get into positive positions in front of goal, she just needs to sort her feet out to find the back of the net. While the Foxes end the day bottom of the table, if performances like today continue with a bit of luck they’ll begin to pick up points.
Next up Leicester Women travel to play Reading in a battle of the bottom. Reading and Leicester are the only teams remaining in the WSL to have zero points.
Levell – Did well to cut off shot early in the match and came out to smother Parris’s attempt. Not much she could do on the headed goal from Parris. Did have the sloppy pass playing out of the back and was fortunate Plumptre made it back to block the shot. 7
Tierney – Looked solid as usual as the center of the back three. Cleaning up and intercepting as needed. 7
Plumptre – Had a couple of surging runs forward to spur the attack. Bailed Levell out to save the foxes from allowing a second goal. Did give up an early foul in an opportune area for Man United, fortunate they couldn’t convert. Still waiting for her headed goal off a set piece. 6
Howard – The first half saw her with key interceptions on Man United’s counters. Effective at keeping Parris from posing more of a threat in the match. 7
Purfield – Continues to deliver the ball into opportune areas for the Foxes. Soon enough the goals will hope to come from this. She had first big chance of the match four minutes in, with her shot easily caught by Earps. Perhaps could have been more patient on that run to cross it into a teammate. Seemed to link up better with Pike this match. 8
Simon – Quiet first half. Without Jones as an outlet not as much of the attack came down this side. Defensively sound, stepping in to halt United’s attack. The second half saw more of her typical runs, getting a cross for Flint to head. 6
Pike – Her best match this season. She appeared more anchored in the midfield and more in tune with Purfield. Defensively she was more tactical, opposed to past matches when she often wondered aimlessly. First half saw her intercept a pass to release Goodwin for one of the better opportunities for a shot. 7
Green – Solid performance in the middle of the pitch. Intercepted passes, won tackles, and tried to get the attack going. Her and Flint aren’t on the same page, which led to a dead stop of any counter. Her half volley was best chance of the match. 8
Whelan – Made runs forward, but was often overlooked with the Leicester player often choosing to go it alone. Her second half was better with her and Simon linking up more. Slide tackle in final 10 minutes to stop the shot in the penalty area. Couldn’t get the ball out from under her feet from the cross by Purfield. She was more instrumental going forward in the second half. 7
Goodwin – Had chance in the first half, instead of waiting for support lofted a soft shot at the keeper. Her development is still under way, with her youth showing at times but under Bedford’s guidance is likely to improve on finishing and decision making. 6
Flint – Didn’t time her runs well and often smothered any counter that was building for the Foxes. She was able to use her physicality well to win the ball from Man United’s back line. Not sure she is best suited for a counterattacking style, which the Foxes are more reliant on currently. 5
Baker – ‘70 on for Goodwin. Made her debut for the WSL season. Wasn’t able to impact the game. The experience for the teenage is good. 5
Bott – ‘83 for Flint. Not much time on the pitch, but gave it her all to win back balls and try to spur an something going forward. N/A
Scofield –’83 for Green. Couldn’t do much in her short time on the pitch. She didn’t make any real impact, but she also didn’t have any big errors. N/A