WSL winners and losers: Aston Villa attacker faces wrath of boss as Lioness hits sparkling form

The Women’s Super League is back after the international break - here are the big winners and losers from this weekend’s round of action.

Alisha Lehmann - loser

The Switzerland international is very much in the dogbox.

With her side trailing by two goals to West Ham United on Saturday, Lehmann stepped up to take a penalty after Hammers midfielder Kate Longhurst was deemed to have handled the ball.

Her penalty, fired weakly at waist height, was easily saved by West Ham ‘keeper Mackenzie Arnold. Oops.

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But what followed was more galling for the 23-year-old - recriminations from Villa boss Carla Ward, who shouted expletives at star striker Rachel Daly for not having taken the penalty.

The Lioness shrugged, suggesting Lehmann’s decision to attempt the spot-kick had been out of her control.

After the final whistle brought Villa’s unbeaten start to the season to an end, Ward told the media:  “It’s clear as day, everybody knows Rachel Daly takes pens. It hasn’t happened. It doesn’t matter why. It’s in-house. It can’t happen again.

“If we say who is on pens, they’re on pens.”

She then confirmed that she had already spoken to Lehmann about the matter. Gulp.

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Jackie Burns - winner

Wow. Some debut for the 25-year-old Reading shot-stopper on Sunday evening.

Days after she was involved in the Irish national team 2023 World cup qualification celebration controversy, Royals number 1 Grace Moloney was on the bench as pointless Reading faced up against title hopefuls Arsenal at the Madejski Stadium. Up steps summer signing Burns, making her first WSL appearance against one of the country’s best sides.

There was no time for Burns to react to a moment of class from lethal Gunners striker Stina Blackstenius, who turned on a sixpence and fired in the opener at lightning speed. But Arsenal achieved a further five shots on target that didn’t find the back of the net thanks to a string of impressive stops from summer signing Burns.

What’s more, Burns got down well to stop Kim Little’s spot-kick, a move that kept the game alive for her side. Despite coming close, Reading couldn’t find the equaliser - but the result would have been dead and buried much earlier in the game were it not for their newbie’s contribution.

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Ella Toone - winner

Ella Toone. It’s the marquee name on the lips of hundreds of new WSL fans drawn to Leigh Sports Village this season following the Mancunian’s storming success at Euro 2022 this summer.

‘I’m absolutely buzzin’ me head off,’ Toone chirped after scoring the opener in England’s triumphant Wembley final win - and the striker was surely set to bring the hype of the tournament back to her club for the fresh WSL season.

If the 23-year-old was disappointed not to be in on any of the six goals the Reds scored across their first two games, she went the right way about fixing it. Against Brighton on Sunday, Toone had bagged a brace to give her side a comfortable lead inside half an hour before playing a sumptuous pass to set up Leah Galton for the third. Oof.

United’s 4-0 Seagulls victory keeps them at the top of the WSL table as Marc Skinner’s side’s perfect start to the season goes on.

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Liverpool - loser

The memory of Liverpool’s shock opening day victory over champions Chelsea is beginning to fade.

Is the WSL too much for the newly-promoted Reds? After a painful schooling at the hands of their Merseyside rivals, Liverpool were dominated once again this weekend as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

It seemed like Liverpool were unfortunate to go behind to a fluke goal, deflecting off defender Niamh Fahey and beating Rachel Lawes at the near post - but they were lucky, really, that the scoreline wasn’t heavier as, repeatedly given time and space to shoot, their opponents came close again and again, twice rattling the woodwork on the way to a narrow victory.

At the other end of the pitch, Liverpool’s attacking issues persisted. Yet to score a goal from open play, Matt Beard’s side have not adjusted well to the loss of key forward Leanne Kiernan. And it’ll be a long wait for the Ireland international’s return - meantime, Beard must find a creative solution to shake up his side.

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