Martha Thomas says Manchester United need to keep up their high standards through to the end of the season in order to maintain a hope of winning a first ever Women’s Super League title.
The Red Devils were beaten 1-0 by reigning champions Chelsea in Sunday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, and while United are one point clear of the Blues at the top of the WSL with two games to play, Emma Hayes’ side have a crucial game in hand on the league leaders.
But striker Thomas says that she and her team-mates will take heart from their performance at the national stadium ahead of a vital Manchester derby against fourth-placed neighbours City.
“It felt like a really positive first half for us, we had some chances, there were some good saves from their keeper and we pretty much controlled the game,” the 26-year-old tells The Sportsman. “Then in the second half maybe they got a bit more comfortable at times and, ultimately, one chance for them and they score.
“We were proud of ourselves as a team for the performance but obviously gutted that we didn’t get anything out of it.
“This team’s not even that old, and for this season to be in a cup final, that was a goal of ours. And we’re also sitting top of the table and that was an ambition of ours, so overall it’s been a good season. But if we walk away and get nothing at the end of it we’ll be disappointed and that just shows how far as a team we’ve come.”
United are approaching Sunday’s clash with City hoping that by the time they kick off at 6:45pm Chelsea will have dropped points either earlier that day against third-placed Arsenal or in tonight’s trip to Everton, the Blues’ game in hand on United.
And Thomas says that the Red Devils feel they owe City one after the 1-1 draw in their previous clash at the Etihad Stadium in December.
“When we played Man City at the Etihad at the beginning of the season we were disappointed with a draw. I think that was a game that showed us what kind of season we were going to have, that we went away from a draw at the Etihad disappointed.
“We want to finish as high as we can, some things are going to be out of our control and even if we win the rest of our games it doesn’t mean we’re going to win the league. But we want to win our last two games, and if we can put on a good performance against City I don’t see any reason as to why we can’t do that.”
The Manchester derby takes place at United’s Leigh Sports Village home on Sunday at 6:45pm BST.