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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

New signings provide safe FA Cup passage for Spurs Women

Tottenham Hotspur (2) 5 England 11, Iwabuchi 45+1, Spence 48, Bennett OG 65, Summanen 79

London City Lionesses (0) 0

Tottenham provided evidence that smart January transfer business might rescue their stuttering season as they avoided a cup upset at the hands of London City Lionesses.

First-half goals from recent acquisitions Beth England and Mana Iwabuchi set the WSL side on their way against the Championship leaders before a healthy number of their new team-mates threatened to get in on the act after the interval.

Strikes from Drew Spence and Eveliina Summanen were complemented by an own goal from London City captain Harley Bennett as Spurs secured just a third win since an 8-0 thrashing of Brighton in October.

Having already scored on her debut against Aston Villa, and now supported in attack by the loan signing of Iwabuchi from Arsenal, England showed from the start that her quality alone might be enough to see off the enthusiastic visitors.

After racing on to a long ball up field, the record holder for a domestic WSL transfer twisted London City skipper Bennett inside out before firing wide of the near post when the net looked destined to ripple.

England did not have to wait long for redemption. Moments after Tinja-Riika Korpela had saved well to deny Sarah Ewens, she produced the sort of clinical finish that will surely guide Spurs away from relegation danger and improve her chances of making England’s summer World Cup squad.

A delightful Rosella Ayane cross from the left wing evaded the reach of Shae Yanez in the London City goal and was directed home expertly by the head of the new signing from Chelsea.

The second-tier side, who were playing their first game since head coach Melissa Phillips departed for a coaching role at Angel City in America, were competitive in the first half and will feel aggrieved at the perceived dominance the final score line will suggest.

They regularly forced Spurs into mistakes with efficient pressing in the first 45 minutes, and Karin Muya caused plenty of problems down the right flank. Only the outstretched leg of Molly Bartrip prevented Muya teeing up top-scorer Ewens for a tap-in on the half hour.

For all of the endeavour shown by the visitors, the emerging understanding developing between England and Iwabuchi was surely a concern – both for them, and Spurs’ relegation rivals in the WSL.

Hopes of an upset were all but extinguished either side of half-time. First Iwabuchi got off the mark for her new side with a strike cruel both in practice and in nature, as a deflection left Yanez stranded as it found the bottom corner in first-half injury time.

Three minutes after the break, Drew Spence - a comparative veteran in the new-look Spurs attack given she was recruited back in June of last year - snaffled the rebound after Yanez had done well to keep out England.

Rehanne Skinner’s expensive new signing was substituted with 30 minutes still to play as tricky fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester United await, but the difficult afternoon she had given Bennett was possibly influential in the game’s cruel penultimate act.

With the London City defender well positioned to beat England’s replacement Nikola Karczewska to a cross from the left, she mistimed contact with the ball and sent it looping over Yanez and into the goal.

There was a final flourish for a hearty collection of Spurs fans at Brisbane Road to get excited about, as substitute Evelina Summanen slotted home at the end of a neat passage of play.

Whether the new signings and the influence they are having on their team-mates can inspire Spurs to a first ever FA Cup win remains to be seen, yet the early signs suggest they will at least provide a great deal more to smile about.

Tottenham: (4-2-3-1) Korpela – A.Neville (Ale 68), Bartrip, Zadorsky (Turner 61), Harrop – Spence, James – Bizet, Iwabuchi (Ubogagu 68), Ayane (Summanen 45) – England (Karczewska 61). Subs not used: Spencer.

London City: (5-2-3) Yanez – Joel (Fitzgerald 83), Bennett, Rodgers, Nolan, Heuchan – Agg (Primus 61), Hopcroft (G.Neville 45)– Muya (Shepherd 80), Ewens (Jarrett 83), Napier. Subs not used: Cull, Pedersen, Kitching.


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