The Aston Villa Women started their new Women’s Championship Season, with a new moniker and a number of new faces this afternoon against Sheffield United Women.
Words by Regan Foy | Follow the writer on Twitter: @findfoy
Aston Villa Ladies started the stronger of the two sides, pushing forwards early on via the likes of Emma Follis and Asmita Ale.
Sophia Haywood had a golden opportunity with Aston Villa’s first of the game in the 8th minute as she managed to get to the ball before Sheffield United’s goalkeeper. Her shot was saved well, and the resulting rebound from Kerri Welsh whistled wide.
But, it was Aston Villa who were the first to concede, with a well-worked ball across the box for their forward Katie Wilkinson to bury home past Sian Rogers, who was rooted to the spot.
New signing Melissa Johnson nearly made it even just two minutes later as she worked the space well to give her the opportunity to take it on to her right foot and fire just over the bar.
In the 21st minute there was adjudged to have been a foul in the box against Sheffield United, and Katie Wilkinson stepped up to potentially grab her second of the game. She shot hard and low to the left, and Sian Rogers just couldn’t reach the ball despite diving the correct way.
Sheffield United Women could have made it three after Amy West was dispossessed near the centre-circle and the away side made their counter-attack. The goal was called off-side.
Aston Villa Women had a well-worked opportunity to get a goal back in the 27th as some neat footwork from Emma Follis followed by an inch-perfect pass allowed Sophia Haywood through on goal. The midfielder just couldn’t find her feet and struggled to get a shot away before she was closed down.
Both sides will have felt that they could have done more with their possession for much of the first half.
Just as the first half was winding up, Melissa Johnson scored her first Championship goal in Claret and Blue as she netted cooly from close range.
Aston Villa Women started the second half well and were the first to register a shot towards goal.
It took just ten minutes of the second half for Aston Villa to find their footing back in the game, with a wonder-strike from Melissa Johnson as she bagged her brace with a curling long range effort into the top right corner.
And just four minutes later, Johnson could have had her hat-trick. A finely worked ball from midfield found the onrushing number nine, who took her time to set-herself up, before firing agonisingly past the post.
Emily Syme replaced Kerri Welsh minutes before the 70th.
The Aston Villa Ladies were dominating much of the second half, and any attempts to push forward from Sheffield United seemed to be stopped by the Villa defensive wall.
Melissa Johnson grabbed her hat-trick around the 70th minute, with an impressive looping ball from close range to give the Ladies the lead for the first time in this game.
As you would expect, this put the fire into Sheffield United, and they immediately struck back with an attempt on goal which was saved comfortably by Sian Rogers. She was forced into a much harder save a few minutes later as Sheffield’s Williams cut into the box and fired towards the bottom right – where Rogers managed to get low and palm it away – and then again just a minute later.
The 80th minute saw Nadine Hanssen arrive into the game.
From here it was end to end, with the Aston Villa Ladies defending well and counter-attacking when the opportunity struck.