Aston Villa Women haven’t played in a while thanks to a lengthy international break. But how did the players perform?
Words: Georgia Homer | @georlh
It’s been three weeks since we saw Aston Villa Women take a point in the Conti Cup group stage against Liverpool. Since then, some of the Villans have been focused on international competitions as various qualifiers took place around the world.
Women’s World Cup Qualifiers
One of the most well-received pieces of news for Villa fans was the call up for goalkeeper Hannah Hampton to the senior England squad for the World Cup qualifiers. It’s been a highly emotional journey for Hampton, having missed out on the previous squad after serving at all youth levels and the SheBelieves Cup. The injury to Manchester City’s Ellie Roebuck gives her the opportunity to impress Sarina Weigman at the camp, even as an unused substitute in both of October’s wins against Northern Ireland and Latvia.
Alisha Lehmann continues to represent Switzerland. Starting on the bench for both qualifiers, Lehmann contributed 40 minutes against Croatia in a 5-0 victory, placing them top of the group.
Chloë Arthur managed a 10 minute run out as Scotland pinched a last minute winner against Hungary in their first qualifier of the break, then started their second game in which they lost to Sweden.
The qualifiers resume again at the end of this month and will end after a further four periods, finishing in September 2022. The winners of each group will advance directly to the competition and the group runners-up will take part in play-offs for the remaining two spots. Emily Gielnik’s Australia qualify automatically as co-host, along with New Zealand.
Women’s Under-19 European Championship Qualifiers
Freya Gregory, Missy Goodwin, Laura Brown, and Olivia McLoughlin all earned places in the England women Under-19 squad. The team is now managed by a familiar face – ex Villa coach Gemma Davies.
The first of the three games was against Northern Ireland and saw a start for Freya Gregory, who was later replaced by clubmate Olivia McLoughlin after 76 minutes. This was more than enough time for Gregory to shine; she forced an early save and continued to cause trouble throughout the rest of the game until she forced a match-winning own goal from a well-taken corner.
All four Villa players started the second game, a goal-heavy showing against Northern Ireland. The Lionnesses came out on top as 8-1 winners, with Missy Goodwin and Freya Gregory each getting on the scoresheet. Gregory also picked up an assist, alongside Olivia McLoughlin.
McLoughlin and Brown started the final game of the international break, with both Gregory and Brown joining the pitch at the hour mark. England made it three wins in three for the opening round of qualifiers, thanks once again to a Freya Gregory set piece. Gregory’s free kick was headed in by Grace Clinton, to end a successful start to the competition for the young Villa women.
We will welcome our international players and the rest of the team back to WSL action on Saturday against defending champions, Chelsea, at the Banks’ Stadium.