Aston Villa Women fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of giants Chelsea Women this afternoon in the Women’s FA Cup.
Words: Andrew Maddox | @Andrew__Maddox
Aston Villa Women fell to a defeat at home to Chelsea in the Women’s FA Cup, but it was a promising performance for Carla Ward’s side.
Guro Reiten grabbed a brace either side of a Pernille Harder penalty to send Chelsea into the fifth round. However, following their crucial victory against Leicester City last week, Villa refused to lie down for The Blues and pushed them until the very end.
Villa enjoyed a promising start, with new arrival Jill Scott enjoying a particularly bright debut. Rather than sitting back and looking to nullify Chelsea’s forwards like the earlier fixture in November, Villa looked to take the game to the visitors. Scott looked to link the midfield with Shania Hayles, dropping back to receive the ball and progressing it quickly up the pitch.
Using Ruesha Littlejohn as a defensive midfielder to link the defence and midfield allowed Villa to play sharp, quick passes around the press. Chloe Arthur also deputised well as a wide midfielder, seeing a promising partnership flourish with Sarah Mayling. However, Villa just seemed to lack the killer final ball to create any real early chances.
Instead, Chelsea landed the first blow. Littlejohn had slotted in at left-back and failed to clear her lines, allowing Jess Carter to play a tame ball across the box to Guro Reiten. The Norwegian midfielder held off her marker, turned in the box and finished neatly into the far corner. Just a few minutes after the opener, Hannah Hampton was forced into making two smart saves to deny Chelsea a second.
The visitors went on to double their advantage through an incredibly soft penalty, won courtesy of Reiten seemingly running straight in Littlejohn as she cleared her lines. Pernille Harder converted the penalty, firing into the top corner.
Chelsea nearly struck again immediately after kick-off, with Fran Kirby intercepting a loose ball across defence. Villa were spared their blushes by Hampton making a good save from Kirby’s long-range shot.
Villa finished the half the stronger side, again progressing the ball well out of defence. However, they were limited to sighters from range as Chelsea defended their box well. Maz Pacheco came closest to a Villa goal as she blazed a powerful effort over the bar.
The second half started much the same as the first ended. Villa were playing neat, progressive balls out from defence and refused to lie down, but they failed to carve out a genuine chance. Instead, both chances of the early exchanges fell to Chelsea.
Almost straight from kick-off, Carter and Fleming managed to squander a golden chance between them. Carter looked to catch Hampton off her line with a looping effort from a tight angle. The full-back just got her angles wrong, but Fleming looked to head it home. However, she couldn’t get up high enough and it went over her head.
The second chance fell to Reiten, who made no mistake in grabbing her second. Hampton could only watch as the midfielder curled a fine shot into the far side of the goal from a narrow angle.
Villa had to wait until the 94th minute to finally find the killer ball, predictably with Scott playing it. The veteran midfielder slotted Ramona Petzelberger in, who was brought down and immediately given the penalty. The German forward took the spot-kick and converted past Zecira Musovic.
Despite the scoreline, it was a strong showing for Villa as they continue to recover from a difficult run of results in the league. There was plenty to encourage Carla Ward, especially with strong showings from her January signings.