Off to a strong start

Tottenham Hotspur Women round-up

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Credit: Stephen Furner

By Haran Naresh

Tottenham Hotspur Women have had a strong start to the season.

They began their campaign with a home victory over Birmingham City, where they dominated the game but lacked a clinical edge in the final third.

Ashleigh Neville put in a teasing cross which found Green in space but she hit her effort off-target. Their goal came when a corner was taken short to Kit Graham and she delivered a ball into the box which missed everyone and went into the far corner.

Graham went on a surging run before hitting a fierce shot that went just over the bar. In the second half, Tottenham continued to get the better of their opponents. They won the ball high up the pitch and Tang Jiali bent an effort wide. Tang had another opportunity a minute later when she was played in by Jessica Naz and drove a shot just off target.

Tottenham followed this with a hard-fought victory at Manchester City. They fell behind to an early goal from Lauren Hemp. A corner was sent in, and the away side’s marking was poor, giving Hemp plenty of time and space to guide a header into the far corner. Tottenham were on the back foot and had to survive a period of City dominance. Hemp fired narrowly wide and Georgia Stanway hit the post.

Ellen White then had an effort tipped over the bar by Becky Spencer. Spurs stayed in the game and equalised through Rachel Williams; Tottenham’s second goal game in controversial circumstances. Angela Addison put in a cross from which Rosella Ayanne pushed the ball in with both hands. The ball took a deflection and went in off the post. The handball was missed by the referee and with the absence of VAR in the WSL, the goal stood. 

Tottenham continued their winning start in the WSL with a 1-0 home victory over Reading. They laid siege to the Reading goal but were once again let down by sub-par finishing. Kit Graham was through on goal but could only shoot straight at Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney.

Spurs were piling on the pressure and Rachel Williams somehow misdirected a header from point-blank range. Graham drove a powerful shot that took a deflection and forced Maloney to make a save. Just when it seemed that the home side would be punished for their profligacy, Tang played in Jessica Naz and she executed a low finish.

Tottenham’s only defeat of the season so far came in their Women’s FA Cup quarter-final tie against Arsenal. They took an early lead through Rachel Williams but were ultimately outclassed by their local rivals. They sat very deep and could not find a way to deal with Arsenal’s intense pressing game. Tobin Heath caused all sorts of problems for the Spurs defence down the left flank. She pulled the ball to the edge of the area for Mana Iwabuchi to fire into the top corner.

Spurs collapsed after this; Asmita Ale chested the ball into her own net just minutes before Nikita Parris squared for Caitlin Foord to add Arsenal’s third. Arsenal piled on the misery on the stroke of half-time as Parris beat Spurs goalkeeper Becky Spencer to head in from a corner. Arsenal eased off in the second half but still added a fifth goal. Beth Mead picked out Foord and she poked home on the stretch.

Rehanne Skinner will be pleased with the way her side have started the season. Tottenham have created several chances in most of their games and will present an attacking threat to most opponents. However, they have had a familiar failing throughout the campaign – poor finishing. This was a major issue last season and there is a danger that it could once again be their Achilles’ Heel.

The thrashing they suffered at Arsenal in the FA Cup demonstrates that they still have a long way to go in order to compete with the best sides in the WSL. Defensively, they have looked fairly solid apart from the Arsenal game. They have shown tactical flexibility, comfortably switching from a back three to a back four.