Despite dominating the game, Aston Villa’s issues glared in the latest WSL Second City Derby.
Words: Andrew Maddox | @Andrew__Maddox
Aston Villa Women ended their second season in the Women’s Super League with a disappointing defeat at home to Birmingham City
Veatriki Sarri’s first half goal was enough to secure the points for Blues, despite Villa dominating much of the game. The hosts had the lion’s share of possession and chances, but once again failed to make any of them count.
It was a poor start to the game for Villa, with Birmingham coming close to opening the scoring within three minutes. The ball fell into the path of Veatriki Sarri and, despite the linesman flagging for offside, the Greek striker fired off a lethal shot that clattered off the crossbar. Carla Ward’s side looked to respond and slowly took control of the play, but they would be hit with a hammer blow before the ten-minute mark.
Sarri received the ball near the corner flag and looped a cross into the box. She got her trajectory completely wrong for the cross, but it looped over former teammate Hannah Hampton and into the net to give Blues the lead. For the next ten minutes, Villa looked shell-shocked, struggling to string any passes together and get any time on the ball. Sarri had the ball in the net again on 17 minutes, but Villa were saved by the linesman.
Blues nearly gifted Villa a way back into the game midway through the first half. Alisha Lehmann played a perfect ball into the path of Emily Gielnik, but Gemma Lawley was there to slide in and deny the Aussie a shot. However, the ball looped up over Emily Ramsey, forcing the Manchester United loanee to punch the ball over for a corner.
Lehmann yet again proved to be a menace down Villa’s right wing before the half was out, cutting into the penalty area and leaving her marker for dead. The Swiss star cut the ball back for Maz Pacheco, but her shot was blocked. Villa had their biggest chance right on half-time, coming through Ruesha Littlejohn. The Irish midfielder latched onto a ball that nobody else reacted to and bore down on goal, but Ramsey just did enough to take the ball from her feet.
The half-time whistle came at a bad time for Villa as they lost all momentum after the restart. While they continued to dominate the play, they failed to force any meaningful chances in the early exchanges. Instead, Blues settled in around their own penalty area and defended resolutely, with Villa growing increasingly frustrated.
Rachel Corsie came close to pulling Villa level just after the hour mark, hitting the crossbar during a goal-line scramble, but it was not enough for Villa.
It has been a season of progress under Ward, with Villa managing to avoid a relegation battle, but the game put their issues on display for all to see. They still have not solved their issues in front of goals, finishing as lowest scorers in the league for the second consecutive season. In fact, their tally of just 12 goals is lower than last season’s 15.
If Villa are to continue their improvement under Ward, they need a source of goals.