Report: Albion's hardworking display is unrewarded

Hope Powell's side beaten 1-0 by Manchester United in Sunday's WSL encounter.

By Bruce Talbot • 03 April 2022

By Malcolm Bryce
Emma Koivisto gets away from United's Maria Thorisdottir.

A hardworking display by Albion was unrewarded as they suffered a narrow defeat against Manchester United in Sunday’s WSL game at the Leigh Sports Village.

Leah Galton’s second-half goal ensured United maintained their Champions League challenge and completed a League double over Albion.

Hope Powell’s side were well organised and proved difficult to break down. They didn’t create many chances, although Julia Zigiotti almost turned in Emma Koivisto’s cross in the first half and substitutes Megan Connolly and Kayleigh Green both went close in a rousing finale by the visitors.

It was no surprise to see third-placed United enjoy the lion’s share of possession in the first period but they found resilient Albion hard to break down.

By Malcolm Bryce
Aileen Whelan sidesteps Hannah Blundell.

Katie Startup made a terrific block with her leg when Ella Toone, making her 100th United appearance, got in on goal but apart from a strike in stoppage time from Maria Thorisdottir which she got right behind, the Albion keeper didn’t have a great deal to do.

In front of her, Albion were compact in their 4-5-1 formation and restricted United to shooting from outside the box, and when Galton thought she’d broken through Maya Le Tissier produced a brilliantly-timed tackle to dispossess her just inside the box.

It wasn’t one-way traffic by any means. Albion broke to good effect on a couple of occasions. Zigiotti’s wonderful diagonal ball released Le Tissier down the right. Her cross picked out Geum-min Lee who couldn’t make proper contact eight yards out.

Zigiotti, who was making only her second WSL start, couldn’t quite get on the end of Koivisto’s cross after another counter-attack.

Startup saved comfortably from Alessia Russo’s header just after the break and that signalled a spell of intense pressure from United.

By Malcolm Bryce
Julia Zigiotti couldn't quite turn the ball in at the far post.

Albion continued to hold firm though. Their shape was good and when called upon they defended well so it was frustrating that when the hosts did break through in the 68th minute it was a poor goal from Albion’s perspective.

Lee was dispossessed in the centre circle, Toone picked out Galton on the left and her cross-shot took a slight nick off Le Tissier and into the bottom corner.

Albion shuffled the pack, making four substitutes in the second half, and in the closing stages they began to threaten an equaliser. Connolly’s volley was heading for the top corner but hit a defender and fellow sub Maisie Symonds saw her effort blocked. At the other end, Martha Thomas raced clear but her shot across Startup rolled agonisingly wide of the post.

By Malcolm Bryce
Albion try to profit from a first-half corner.

Albion piled forward in the closing stages and Green had her head in her hands in stoppage time when she flicked on a cross which Mary Earps kept out at full stretch.

After the international break Albion return to action on 23 April at home to Birmingham City.

Albion: Startup, Le Tissier, Kerkdijk (Brazil 86), Williams, Koivisto, Simpkins (Bance 52), Whelan (Symonds 73), Kullberg (Connolly 45), Gibbons, Zigiotti, Lee (Green 73).

Subs: Walsh, Kaagman, Carter.

Attendance: 1524