Aston Villa Women are on their way towards achieving safety in their first season in the Women’s Super League.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Despite losing heavily to Arsenal last Sunday and losing 3-0 to Manchester United Women today, the home stretch towards survival at the first time of asking is edging ever closer for Aston Villa Women.
That was the initial goal for the club, to remain at the peak of Women’s football in the United Kingdom after only turning fully professional when the side achieved promotion after an unbeaten season was called to a halt early due to the ongoing pandemic.
The season was always going to be a tough one, with a number of more senior players leaving at the end of the promotion campaign and a range of nationalities and experience levels joining in the summer – there needed to be a bedding in period, a period of getting used to a new league and in situation that is bound to have caused some difficulties.
Alongside that, there have been difficulties with scheduling. COVID cases within the Women’s Super League and within the Aston Villa Women internally have caused games to be postponed – and the colder weather during December, January and February also proved to be a hinderance too with a number of the league’s games having to be moved due to frozen pitches.
It’s been a long slog this season, but the end is now in sight. Aston Villa Women are four points and two places above the leagues sole relegation spot, currently occupied by Bristol City Women.
Eight games remain in the Women’s Super League season for Gemma Davies and Marcus Bignot’s side, against league leaders Chelsea and high-flying Everton after they’ve faced Brighton & Hove Albion, before games against the two teams currently below them in West Ham and Bristol offer two of the most important games of the season. There are also games against Arsenal and another against West Ham, as well as a yet to be rescheduled tie against Second City rivals Birmingham City Women.
The games against West Ham United Women and Bristol City Women are the key games in the final run that takes us to early May. If the side manage to pick up points from those games, it consolidates their potential survival. Even better if they pick up points from the other games around them too.
There is still potential for the side to be relegated straight back into the FA Women’s Championship, of course, which would be a disappointment in the eyes of the fans and the board, but not the end of the world. The likely response would be a small rebuild and an attempt to achieve promotion at the first time of asking.
The side, despite a number of large losses in their maiden season, look strong enough mentally and tactically to achieve their overall goal. From there, it’s about year on year progression.
After all, Purslow did say he wanted Aston Villa Women to compete in the upper echelons of Women’s football. And there’s every faith they will get there. It’s a step by step process.