Aston Villa Women won for the first time at the Banks’ Stadium this season – but what did we learn from the game?
Words: Bruna Reis | @BrunaSportsJour
Mana Iwabuchi wonder-goal seals first home soil triumph for Aston Villa Women in the Women’s Super League
Aston Villa Women hosted Tottenham Hotspur at the Banks’ stadium this afternoon on matchday 12, in what was a narrow 1-0 victory to Marcus Bignot’s side.
With their first positive home result, the side has moved up to ninth in the table of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.
Both sides were looking to bounce back after their mid-week and last weekend’s disappointing result to Chelsea.
Villa. who were sitting just outside of the relegation zone in 12th place were in dire need to start adding further points to the table following fellow relegation battlers Bristol City’s win last time out.
Here are the three things we learned from this afternoon’s match:
Aston Villa Women started on the right foot with a strong and impressive display in the early stages of the game. The first chance of the game fell to the path of defender Jodie Hutton who burst down the left-hand side with the ball, but the chance went begging for Diana Silva.
The hosts maintained composure by pressing higher up the field, before Mana Iwabuchi found the opener through a powerful individual strike from outside of the area in the 12th minute, after being left unmarked.
The Japanese international netted her second goal of the season in three appearances for the Villans.
Villa shot-stopper Lisa Weiß who was forced into action throughout the game, revealed the reason as to how significant the goal was ahead of a busy schedule.
“We wanted to go into half time with a clean sheet, which we could build on.
“Mana scored, which was brilliant for us, and then we built on that.”
The former Lyon keeper also praised the striker’s abilities.
“She has very good technique and will help us a lot. She will get used to the rhythm now. It’s different in Japan or Germany, where she’s played before, but she’ll get there and help us to do well.”
Despite Spurs’ dominating a lot of the ball, they were unable to capitalise on any chances as Villa displayed a solid defence and looked more convincing than in previous games this term and were later rewarded with the vital three points as they distanced themselves from the relegation zone.
The visitors had a late chance in the 100th minute when Cho So-hyun’s effort from inside the box was just over the target.
Weiß added: “I think we did very good. We kept the pressure low, and we didn’t concede a lot of chances.
“It’s normal to come under pressure when you lead 1-0 but we did well, and we defended with everything we had.”
Spurs’ boss Rehanne Skinner suffered her second successive defeat, their sixth of the campaign but her side remain in seventh place of the WSL.
Whereas the claret and blue side are full of belief and strength going into the Second City Derby in mid-week, finding themselves level on ten points with local rivals.
First-team debut for Freya Gregory
A memorable occasion for England under-18s player, Freya Gregory who made way for Jodie Hutton in the 83rd minute.
Gregory started her youth career at Villa in 2018 before joining rivals Birmingham City academy where she stayed two seasons and made her senior debut against Brighton & Hove Albion in a 3-0 WSL defeat in 2019.
She then left the Blues to re-join the Villans in June last year.
Olivia McLoughlin also earned herself a call-up to the first team recently and Isobel Goodwin followed, as both joined Bignot and company for Spurs’ visit to the Banks’.
Marcus Bignot’s work is slowly, but surely becoming clear
It is fair to say that it is still early days for the new interim manager, having only been at the helm for the last two matches. However, in such a short space of time, improvements are becoming apparent and transforming the team to have a tougher mentality, being more resilient and most importantly, breaking the habit of conceding within the first five to ten minutes of games is something Bignot is doing well.
Keeping a clean sheet was certainly something that was rectified in this encounter.
Also bearing in mind that the team had a few extra days to prepare for this fixture due to the postponement with Arsenal because of a waterlogged pitch that raised “health and safety concerns.”
Bignot praised his side’s enhanced display at the Banks’ stadium this afternoon.
“Everything we’re asking of the group, they’re doing, like I said, we lost to Chelsea 4-0, but we came out of that game with positives from the group and we saw those positives go into today’s game and on top of that was our ability to nullify, recognise our weakness from the Chelsea game and make sure they weren’t apparent in today’s game.
“I’m delighted. No better feeling than winning football matches, it’s been a while, but this will do them a world of good.
“First and foremost, you can’t beat a Saturday afternoon and three points, that’s what we work hard for and we’re certainly going to enjoy tonight.”
Spurs will play host to Bristol City at the Hive London on Wednesday, February 10. Meanwhile Villa’s attention will now turn to the mid-week fixture, a meaningful one down the road against the Blues.
Both clashes will be available on the FA Player app for fans to live stream with both kick-offs scheduled for 7:30pm.