Manchester United channel spirit of ‘Fergie Time’ to keep title dreams alive

Manchester United’s Hannah Blundell and Millie Turner celebrate after their team’s victory in the FA Women’s Super League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at the Poundland Bescot Stadium on April 28, 2023 in Walsall, England – Getty Images / Nathan Stirk

Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 3

Manchester United manager Marc Skinner was impressed with his use of “Fergie time” after the most exciting Women’s Super League title race in the competition’s history took another dramatic turn with the leaders scoring a crucial stoppage-time winner to Beat Aston Villa 3-2 and go six points clear at the top of the table.

Substitute Millie Turner’s header from Katie Zelem’s controversial 94th-minute free-kick sent Manchester United traveling wild, on a night when Rachel Daly’s impressive double for Aston Villa looked to have put a big dent in Skinner’s side’s hopes. lifting the first WSL title.

The fate of the title remains in the hands of defending champions Chelsea; Emma Hayes’ side, who are in third place, are now seven points behind Manchester United, but with three games in hand. However, for Skinner’s team, the psychological boost of this comeback victory will be enormous.

He praised his team’s desire to continue chasing the late goal, saying: “Manchester United’s big men’s teams haven’t given up. It’s called ‘Fergie time’ for a reason, right? It’s the attitude. And it’s what we have is to keep pushing, keep trying to get free kicks, try to score, so for me it shows a lot more about our mentality and it’s a huge sign of what we can achieve. “

For long periods, however, they looked second best. Aston Villa had failed to score in their previous five WSL meetings with Manchester United, but Daly ended that drought just nine minutes into this contest when she curled a stunning header into the far corner of the net from a right-wing corner. delivered. by Lucy Staniforth, who would later float in a similar delivery that saw Anna Patten face the crossbar.

Manchester United right back Ona Batlle produced her ninth assist of the WSL season, joint-high in the division alongside Chelsea’s Guro Reiten, when she made a powerful run down the right after collecting the ball inside her own half and she played a great game. across to the far post where Leah Galton provided the finish to make it 1-1. However, Daly’s second – a skilful finish from Maz Pacheco’s through ball from Villa’s left – restored the home side’s lead before half-time.

Daly’s double took her on 17 league goals for the season and level with Manchester City’s Bunny Shaw in the race for the Golden Boot, while the former Houston Dash forward’s all-round performance marked her first impressive season as an Aston Villa player after signing. for the WSL club last summer.

England’s Euro-winning star almost had a hat-trick when she hit a close-range effort over the bar shortly after the break, in a break from some second-half pressure on Manchester United, but the visitors found way to balance when Hannah got up. Blundell’s deep cross from the left went all the way to Nikita Parris, and her header was only helped into the net by Hannah Hampton. Villa then raised their game again and were shocked when Turner rose to head home the winner in the dying throes of a red-hot game.

Skinner refused to be drawn into any discussion of his side’s title chances, adding only: We can’t control anyone else’s destiny, so we have to focus on us. Tottenham won’t be easy, then we have Man City, and then we have Liverpool. Three tough games, but we’re leading one of the toughest tonight.”

Villa were angered by the final decision to award Manchester United the game-winning free-kick, where Pacheco was deemed to have fouled Vilde Boe Risa near the corner flag. Even the staunchest of Manchester United fans would surely admit that it was ‘a bit soft’. Ward, whose ever-improving team is fifth in the table, said: “The linewoman was a yard away and said no foul. The ref was 30 yards away and said foul. It’s hard to take. We were excellent right through the 90 minutes. We’re losing tonight, but my players were outstanding.”

Data matching

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Hampton 5; Mayling 6, Patten 7, Turner 7, Pacheco 7; Staniforth 8, Littlejohn 6 (Lehmann 6, 63); Blindkilde Brown 7, Dali 6, Nobbs 7; Distribution 8

Subsidiaries not used: Allen, Boye-Hlorkah, Leet (gk), Magill, Keitley

Yellow cards: Staniforth, Littlejohn, Nobbs, Pacheco

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Ear 6; Batlle 7, Le Tissier 6, Mannion 6 (Turner 7, 87), Blundell 7; Zelem 6, Ladd 6; Parris 7 (Thomas 5, 77), Toone 6 (Boe Risa 6, 90+1), Galton 6 (Garcia 6, 77); Russia 6 (Williams 6, 77)

Subsidiaries not used: Riviere, Tounkara, Cascarino, Baggaley (gk)

Yellow cards: Zelem

Referee: Lisa Benn (Sussex)

Attendance: 4,176

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