It’s hard not to be happy when you’ve not lost a league game this season.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
When you’re sitting pretty at the peak of the FA Women’s Championship, having not lost a league game in what is now the halfway point of the season, it’s going to be hard not to be in a buoyant mood.
In fact, there’s been positivity around the club since before the season even started; with good form to close out the previous season paired with the new investment over the summer.
Praise must be heaped on Head Coach Gemma Davies and her coaching staff for the continued work undertaken to ensure that this spirit continues – as well as staff behind the scenes pulling the strings off the pitch.
With a 3-1 win against Leicester City this past weekend, the Women extended their run this season to ten games unbeaten and have continued to pick up points despite, by their own admission, ‘not making it easy for themselves’.
Leicester frustrated Aston Villa Women with a stagnant, defensive approach that meant the home side had to leave it late to grab points. A twelve-minute flurry, which saw Marisa Ewers opener via a smart finish from within the area followed by Melissa Johnson’s eleventh goal of the season with a poachers finish. Leicester clawed a goal back to set up an especially anxious finish to the game – but super-sub Shania Hayles secured the win in the final minute.
There have been moments throughout the season that, while they may seem minute to the average fan, can be huge in regard to the confidence of the singular player and the collective at Aston Villa Women.
One example of this came against Leicester City. 22-year-old Amy West, a life-long Aston Villa fan and a homegrown talent after joining the club’s Centre of Excellence in late 2006, captained the side as a ‘stand-in’ leader with Elisha N’Dow only able to make the bench.
The classy midfielder, who did her entrance trials at Bodymoor Heath – and now trains there multiple times a week thanks to the summer’s changes – was the right choice for captain. Whilst options like Marisa Ewers, Natalie Haigh or Emma Follis may have been more obvious options due to their level of experience in the game – the decision made by Davies proved to be a masterstroke.
Perhaps West looked to be a cut above in training. Perhaps she looked a cut below. Regardless, leading her childhood team out at Boldmere St. Michaels would have filled West with confidence – and that’s something that’s infectious in a team environment.
Fans can’t really state that there are fringe players in the squad either, with every member involved – be that in the league or cup. The only player to have not had game time so far this season is Alice Hassall, who made the bench for the first time against Leicester, due to a long term injury.
Pair this with more training and involvement with the club, contracts for the sides exceptional young talents and a consistent winning feeling, and there you have Gemma Davies’ secret recipe to the success at Aston Villa Women in 2019.
There are two more games before an excellent calendar year for the Aston Villa Women concludes – both of which are to be played at Boldmere St Michaels – where they face Blackburn in the Continental Cup on Wednesday and London City Lionesses in the FA Women’s Championship on Sunday.
The feelgood factor might just be exacerbated if the side goes into 2020 unbeaten in the league and with a cup Quarter-Final on the cards.