Aston Villa Women looked every ounce a Women’s Super League side again, but struggled with the ball in the opposition’s final third.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa Women fans had the opportunity to see Lisa Weiß play for their side for the first time as Gemma Davies named one change from the loss against Manchester City, deciding to opt for the more experienced German over Sian Rogers after the young ‘keepers torrid first half against the Citizens.
The Berkshire sunshine shone on the Madejski Stadium – Reading Women’s new permanent home – as the two sides got underway. Both sides looked happy to press early on – but it was Reading who offered the first test – a long ranged shot that forced Weiß into an uncomfortable save.
Neither side were putting much pressure on the opposition goal and seemed happy to let the other side play their game. Aston Villa Women looked like they were crafting the better opportunities – but a lack of conviction in the final third seemed to let them down in their attacks.
Reading were the side to take the lead in the 23rd minute as Aston Villa’s defence, which had looked resolute up until this point, was cut open with three swift passing movements, before the ball was squared across the net for Amalie Eikeland to bury past Weiß in the Villa net.
Davies’ side made an exceptional break just minutes later as Emma Follis danced into the Reading final third, before she played it wide for Diana Silva – who should have shot – but decided to attempt an aerial squared ball for Larsen which was deflected into the grasp of Moloney.
Reading’s second came against the run of play as Aston Villa enjoyed a prelonged spell of possession. The home side attacked down the left and a ball was played into the box for Lauren Bruton to fire into the roof of the net.
The Royals almost had a third shortly after with a shot from outside of the box – which was saved excellently by Lisa Weiß.
Aston Villa Women conceded a penalty in added time during the first half, as Danielle Carter’s quick feet flummoxed the Villa defence and they found themselves biting at the ball to dispossess her, instead knocking her to the floor. Fara Williams stepped up for the resulting penalty, and she calmly placed a Panenka-style ball into the bottom right.
Aston Villa looked to start the second half the brighter of the two sides, but once more looked lacklustre moving into the final third.
Weiß was called into action on a few occasions within the second half’s opening fifteen minutes, but looked comfortable in the net and the away side did not look likely to concede another.
The German ‘keeper was forced into another strong save in the 64th minute, holding a strong palm out to deny Eikeland a brace. Sophie Haywood replaced Caroline Siems in the 65th minute. Two minutes later, and Ramona Petzelberger was replaced by Emily Syme, whilst Elisha N’Dow was replaced by Asmita Ale.
Aston Villa were awarded a penalty in the 78th minute as Marisa Ewers was caught on the edge of the box after a prolonged period of possession – Stine Larsen stepped up to the spot and fired underneath the dive of Moloney.
Following the goal, Shania Hayles and Amy West were subbed onto the pitch, replacing Marisa Ewers and Diana Silva.
Shania Hayles thought that she’d put Aston Villa one goal away from grabbing a point in the 85th minute as she found herself at the end of a scramble in the box and was able to bury the ball – but the referee had already blown for a foul on Reading’s Rachel Rowe.
Lisa Weiß ensured the scoreline remained respectable with an outstanding save to deny Danielle Carter from outside of the box with two minutes of normal time remaining.
There were six minutes of added time in which Aston Villa looked to attempt to find a way back into the game – but the away side couldn’t quite find their way.