They may have lost, but Aston Villa Women have come so far in a short period of time.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa Women travelled to the Kingsmeadow Stadium to face Women’s Super League outfit Chelsea Women in the quarter-finals of the Continental Cup this evening, and although they lost, they showcased exactly how far they have come since the start of last season.
The Villans were resolute in defence in the first half, with a number of exceptional defensive efforts from the likes of Natalie Haigh and Elisha N’Dow.
Sian Rogers was called into action within the first twenty as Cuthbert broke away after a squared ball from Beth England, but Aston Villa’s ‘keeper was able to collect.
The defensive efforts continued into the first half, as Sam Kerr unleashed a fierce shot for the hosts twenty-five minutes in – but N’Dow was there to block the strike.
Jodie Hutton also contributed defensively as she cleared a Beth England shot off the line twelve minutes before the end of the half.
Rogers was excellent once more early in the second, blocking an excellent goal-bound free-kick from Chelsea.
It was the 54th minute that saw the games first breakthrough, as Eriksson latched onto a corner for the hosts – but Aston Villa almost responded immediately as Marisa Ewers played through Emma Follis, who’s shot struck the woodwork.
More defensive work was needed to keep Gemma Davies’ side in the game in the 60th, as Natalie Haigh cleared Sam Kerr’s shot at the back post. The following fifteen or so minutes saw a number of substitutions for the visitors and continued defensive bravery with last-ditch tackles and strong saves.
Ji So-Yun, the South Korean international who has five goals and three assists in the Women’s Super League so far, doubled Chelsea’s lead with ten minutes to go – thanks to a squared ball from England international Beth England.
Aston Villa Women would have thought that they had a chance to get back into the game in the 84th minute, as Kerri Welsh – who had just come onto the pitch to replace Jodie Hutton – scored with her first touch.
But as the game inched towards full-time, Emily Murphy bagged her first goal for the Blues and put the game out of reach for Villa, before the full whistle blew.
Whilst the Villans may have lost, it’s a sign of how far they have come since the start of the last season, where they lost 12-0 to a full-professional Manchester United Women in the league.
Tonight, they have gone toe to toe, albeit in a defensive bout, with one of the stand-out sides in England and a UEFA Women’s Champions League side. The scoreline remained respectable – and it’s a good sign for the next season if things remain as they currently are in the FA Women’s Championship.