Beth England scored a stunning winner as Tottenham edged past bottom side Leicester to end a run of nine successive Women’s Super League defeats.
Having sacked manager Rehanne Skinner after Sunday’s loss at Liverpool, Spurs looked to be heading for a goalless draw in a dour contest at Brisbane Road before England produced a moment of quality.
In the 65th minute, the January signing from Chelsea attacked down the left before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable strike from the corner of the box into the far top corner.
Just a minute earlier, Leicester had looked certain to score as Sophie Howard’s header was cleared off the line with the follow up being thumped over via the top of the crossbar.
Leicester pushed for an equaliser but it was Spurs, under interim head coach Vicky Jepson, who came closest to providing the game’s second goal when Rosella Ayane put Celin Bizet clean through but the touch around goalkeeper Janina Leitzig took her too wide and the substitute’s shot was off target.
The victory takes Spurs five points clear of Leicester, who are in the solitary relegation place. Willie Kirk’s side missed the chance to leapfrog their opponents and stay one point behind Brighton in 11th.
Winning start for Jepson eases Spurs relegation fears
While Leicester were unable to create a real chance of note in the closing stages, there was understandable tension emitting from the Tottenham players and staff as they tried to cling on for a first league win since beating Brighton 8-0 on 30 October.
Few could have foreseen the run that followed as Spurs plummeted from fifth to 10th and found themselves firmly in a relegation battle. Even the additions of England and Mana Iwabuchi, on loan from Arsenal, could not stop the rot.
It came as little shock then when the decision was made to part ways with Skinner. The only slight surprise was that they did so just two days before such a crucial meeting with a much-improved Leicester side.
Assistant manager Jepson, the former Liverpool boss, was installed as a temporary replacement. Her team’s display was largely unimpressive, but they got the result they needed.
Leicester were the better side in a dire first half but their own lack of cutting edge ensured Spurs’ sloppiness in possession went unpunished.
However, England was brought in from Chelsea to make the difference for Spurs – albeit they hoped it would be as they challenged higher up the table – and did so against Leicester to give her side a five-point cushion in the fight against the drop.
- 5BartripBooked at 37mins
- 23AyaneSubstituted forUbogaguat 90+5′minutes
- 25SummanenSubstituted forBizet Ildhusøyat 59′minutes
- 19EnglandSubstituted forGrahamat 72′minutes
- 9KarczewskaSubstituted forIwabuchiat 45′minutes
- 14Bizet Ildhusøy
Leicester City Women
- 6Eaton-CollinsSubstituted forPikeat 77′minutes
- 14GreenSubstituted forRobinsonat 87′minutes
- 10WhelanSubstituted forJonesat 64′minutes
- 20GoodwinSubstituted forSiemsenat 64′minutes
- Yoshimi Yamashita
Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur Women 1, Leicester City Women 0.
Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur Women 1, Leicester City Women 0.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Chioma Ubogagu replaces Rosella Ayane.
Delay in match because of an injury Hannah Cain (Leicester City Women).
Attempt saved. Monique Robinson (Leicester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Ruby Mace (Leicester City Women) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Monique Robinson (Leicester City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Drew Spence (Tottenham Hotspur Women).
Ashleigh Plumptre (Leicester City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Angharad James (Tottenham Hotspur Women).
Substitution, Leicester City Women. Monique Robinson replaces Josie Green.
Foul by Remy Siemsen (Leicester City Women).
Ashleigh Neville (Tottenham Hotspur Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Rosella Ayane (Tottenham Hotspur Women) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Drew Spence.
Attempt missed. Rosella Ayane (Tottenham Hotspur Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Conceded by Molly Pike.
Attempt saved. Molly Pike (Leicester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sam Tierney.
Offside, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Drew Spence tries a through ball, but Kit Graham is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Celin Bizet Ildhusøy (Tottenham Hotspur Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Rosella Ayane.