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Toone Army

Leicester City 0-1 Manchester United (Women’s Super League)

I’ve not done as many women’s games in recent months but I never mind too much, in frequenting Leicester, not a million miles away from home, down the A46 and on a Sunday, it can be a pain free and quick journey which allows me to park outside, although rumour is they’ll be slightly more in attendance today? The big guns are in town, whether it’s Manchester United men, women, kids, they’ll always bring a backing, and not just that, fans of opposition will often be more inclined to watch when United are in town.. Funny how some can have such pull.


I’ve had to purchase a ticket for this one, £16.50 it costs with a booking fee. Extortionate as usually I pay £8… I’ve okayed it with the bosses who’ll reimburse me full value, so I’m all confirmed and ready to go... A Sunday morning walk however has been postponed, it’s not stopped chucking down since the early hours so I’m feet up watching Sunday Brunch as the Mrs goes shopping, me and the dog chilled ahead of my 1pm exit… I’m on the road to watch two teams who have underperformed somewhat in the league this season, United who finished second in the title race last term are so far fourth, whilst Leicester have slipped in recent weeks after a promising start, the are third bottom following their sacking of Willie Kirk (we won’t go there), but are well safe from relegation with Bristol City a cool eleven points below them.


The Venue


There’s a traffic warden on duty as I pull up outside a factory on Brazil Street. Even they know today that Manchester United are in town. Usually on a Sunday for women’s football there’s plenty of space, crowds often under 2,000 but today they’re expecting 5 or 6k and it seems that bit busier in and around.


There’s a mural on the wall of Lineker Road celebrating Leicester’s 2016 Premier League title as I walk down Burnmoor Street thinking to myself, they’ve also just won the Championship, after securing promotion on Friday.

The atmosphere is good, as I approach the ground and download my ticket on google wallet, it’s only then I realise why I might have paid so much… ‘Hospitality Entrance’ it says I have to enter through? Looks like I mistakenly paid first class? Oh well, it’s a different route to the norm as I head up the stairs and am told by a nice lady to park myself in the Walkers Lounge ahead of game.


It's large and spacious, swanky, lots of TV’s on the wall as I watch Arsenal v Tottenham in preparing for my own kick off. Round tables dressed in white cloth, a view out over the River Soar, I’m off to the toilet where I’m mightily impressed with the facilities, super nice exceeding those even of Wembley where I often frequent.


There’s half hour until kick off but I make my way up to my seat, chosen specifically, back row, up and centre, cushioned, padded with a cracking view, the all blue square bowl arena is a cracking ground of Premier League quality, and more than adequate for WSL of course.


The Game


United are clear favourites because they’re simply the better team, but I saw the Leicester girls at Newport Pagnall Services last weekend after defeat against Arsenal, when me and my mate Daz were coming back, early, from Wembley.


I told him then, when he asked, who the best players were, and the Foxes are a league of nations, with a lot of ability, they have quickly taken to life in the top professional tier of English football and they were also more than a match for United, more than I expected in fact.


Janina Leitzig is the busier of the two keepers, she’s made a couple of good saves as Leicester keep at bay the attacking threat of United. Geyse the Brazilian right winger is a real threat with pace and trickery, whilst United have a lot of the ball, orchestrated by Maya Le Tissier from deep and Katie Zalem in midfield.


The Score


The first half is scoreless though as United edge the shots account, Leicester can be proud of their efforts, and the hosts could take the lead early in the second half as Goodwin pokes wide before Momiki’s low effort is saved by Mary Earps.


The England goalie had earlier gone down after colliding with the posts and got a huge cheer off both supporters when she bravely got up on her feet to carry on, and it was an England team-mate who gave United the lead, Ella Toone had just came on the field to further huge applause before letting fly from 30 yards and absolute belter into the top corner. Probably the best goal I’ve seen all season man or woman, a proper effort from a proper player. Tooney, Tooney, was the cry from the United faithful.


That goal turned out to be the winner, despite a good twelve or thirteen minutes of injury time following the earlier injury to Earps, but Leicester couldn’t knock down United’s door, a defence marshalled well by the world’s best female goalkeeper.


The Stars


United’s right winger Geyse was no doubt their star attacking asset, Brazilian born she reminded me of Marcus Rashford, lots of ability and pace but infrequently taking the easy or sensible approach to keep possession.


Maya Le Tissier and Millie Turner were dominant at centre half as they fended off the often isolated Lena Peterman whilst Ella Toone came on, smashed into an opponent, got a stunning goal, and put in a schoolboy like performance, a touch of the Gascoigne's, making a statement from minute one entering the pitch, it’s little wonder why she’s so loved by both sets of supporters.


For Leicester they lacked creation against a side who were bigger, stronger, quicker, the Foxes couldn’t get enough bodies forward to make their efforts count, but plenty of good performances, Sophie Howard at the back, Yuka Momiki in midfield, Lena Paterman up front, even though she was isolated, she always seems to be a strong focal point. In fact late on, Deanna Rose came on and offered a huge pacey threat down the left, wonders if she would be better starting, and also be better on the right, where she can pop shots off without looking to cut inside.


The Verdict


United’s season may not be all that in the league but they have reached the FA Cup Final for the first time and they take on Tottenham in the final, who beat Leicester in the semi’s, that wil be some day in front of a full house at Wembley.


Meanwhile managerless Leicester have advertised on google for their vacant gaffers job. Next aim is to get that sorted, then next season, we’ll see how they progress.


The Teams:


Leicester City: Janina Leitzig, Asmita Ale (CJ Bott 68), Julie Thibaud, Sophie Howard, Janice Cayman, Saori Takarada (Emilia Pelgander 90), Jutta Rantala, Sam Tierney, Yuka Momiki, Missy Goodwin (Deanne Rose 68), Lena Peterman.


Manchester United: Mary Earps, Hannah Blundell, Maya Le Tissier, Millie Turner, Gemma Evans, Leah Galton, Katie Zalem, Geyse (Nikita Parris 62), Lisa Naalsund (Hayley Ladd 87), Hinata Miyazawa (Ella Toone 73), Melvin Mallard (Lucia Garcia 62).


3:00pm Kick Off. Sunday 28th April 2024, Leicester City Stadium, Leicester (att 6,262).

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