Aston Villa Women are back in action this weekend.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Following a well-deserved winter break, the Aston Villa Women return to action this weekend against fellow promotion candidates Sheffield United Women.
Sheffield are the biggest threat to Villa’s spot at the peak of the FA Women’s Championship. Although Aston Villa Women have conquered their rivals twice so far, once in the league and once in the Continental Cup, they will need to beat them in the return fixture this Sunday to further cement their push towards the Women’s Super League.
Whilst Villa are unbeaten in the league this season, United have lost just once – in their opening day fixture at Boldmere St. Michaels.
Their home form is strong, with their first two home showings producing 12 goals – seven against Leicester City and five against Coventry.
With three points separating the two sides, and with Durham six points behind Aston Villa Women, Gemma Davies’ side can go six points clear at the top of the league with eight games remaining in the season, an important position to be in with the likes of Coventry United and Crystal Palace Women still left to play.
Following this, there’s a bigger test to face in the form of two Women’s Super League sides in two different cup competitions – third placed Chelsea in the Quarter-Final of the Continental Cup, and ninth-placed Brighton & Hove Albion Women in the fourth round of the FA Women’s Cup.
These two sides are “stronger” than Aston Villa, especially Chelsea, who have a number of full internationals of various nationalities in their squad – but it will be a welcome challenge for Gemma Davies, who will be looking to test her high-flyers against the sides that they could be facing next season.
Top scorer Melissa Johnson will also be looking to grab those all-important goals against high-level defenders and prove to the manager that she has what it takes to cut it in the upper echelons of Women’s football in the United Kingdom.
Can the lady Villans cement themselves as real contenders before the current season has even reached its conclusion? We’ll have to wait and see.