New boss inspires first win for Spurs
Skinner’s delight at players’ response, as USA striker Morgan is among scorers in 3-1 victory
10 December, 2020 — By Catherine Etoe
WITH a first goal for the club’s superstar signing Alex Morgan and three points in the bag, it seems fair to say that recently installed Spurs manager Rehanne Skinner enjoyed a memorable first matchday on Sunday.
The 41-year-old had spent less than a week with her new charges on the training ground at Hotspur Way before they took to the pitch against Brighton in Barnet.
Even so, a team who had yet to record an FA Women’s Super League victory this term turned in a winning performance that pulled them up to ninth in the table.
A pinpoint free-kick from former Birmingham skipper Kerys Harrop, a fine solo effort from England youth player Angela Addison, and a coolly taken penalty from USA striker Morgan sealed a 3-1 win.
So what had Skinner’s rallying call been before the kick-off?
“To believe in themselves and the quality that they have to offer,” she said. “Ultimately, that I believe that they’ve got more to offer than they have so far, and they’ve got to now start to get onboard with that and start believing in themselves.”
Skinner said she told the team “not to be fearful of making mistakes”, adding: “I just want the team to be around each other as much as possible and to make sure that they have each other’s backs.”
A happy start, then, for the former Arsenal assistant coach and England Under-18s to Under-21s boss. And an equally satisfactory return for the couple of hundred fans who were allowed into The Hive to watch their team in the flesh for the first time this season.
It was also a moment to savour for Morgan, who bravely stepped up to score from the spot despite having missed a penalty against Arsenal last time out.
The two-time World Cup winner, who has been working her way back to fitness after giving birth in May, had not scored a goal since leaping to head in the winner against England in the World Cup semi-final in July 2019.
The 31-year-old pretended to sip tea in celebration in that momentous match. After her first Spurs goal, she simply lapped up celebratory hugs from her teammates before making a Gareth Bale-style heart-shape gesture towards her husband Servando Carrasco and their daughter Charlie in the stands.
Another player to show their spot-kick mettle at the weekend was Arsenal’s midfield maestro Kim Little. The Scot had a first-half penalty saved by Birmingham City goalkeeper Hannah Hampton at Meadow Park.
The Arsenal captain boldly took on penalty duties again with just three minutes left and this time she was on target to round off a 3-0 win.
Australian striker Caitlin Foord and Netherlands midfielder Jill Roord also scored to get the Gunners back to winning ways in the WSL following November’s draw to Chelsea and loss to Manchester United.
When he met the press afterwards, head coach Joe Montemurro was quizzed on the impact Brexit will have on overseas players, and the possibility of new WSL rules that could mean clubs will have to include eight homegrown players in their squad from next season. Any ambitious “locals” should take note.
“We are starting that succession planning,” he said. “I mean Lotte [Wubben-Moy] is one [of the homegrown players], we hope to look at another couple of local players coming in within our structure, but obviously we’ll look at the whole gamut of recruiting.
“We’ve already got things in place for next season. But we are looking locally for our succession planning.”
ON THE TELLY
Arsenal’s away clash with Manchester City this Sunday is live on BT Sport 1. Spurs’ home tie with Aston Villa – also on Sunday – is live on The FA Player.