London Bees celebrate scoring against Aston Villa

Match Report: Aston Villa Ladies 1-3 London Bees (25.11.18)

Our second Saturday night game of the season saw Aston Villa Ladies host London Bees, without Paula Howells and Rosie Lane it would have seemed a great chance to pick up three points to leapfrog London Bees in the table. The previous games have been close affairs with very different looking line ups. Villa picked an unchanged team, which wasn’t a surprise after the way we played at Lewes Women, even though we didn’t walk away with the win we deserved.

Villa came out the blocks fast and immediately put The Bees under pressure. With less than two minutes on the clock, Jodie Hutton broke through and drove the ball home past the keeper putting Villa 1-0 up. That goal meant a lot to Jodie and it was clear to see.

The pressure continued as Kerri Welsh came close to adding to our brilliant start but the ball wouldn’t fall the right side of the bar. The first thirty minutes continued in the same way as constant Villa pressure would surely lead to another goal.

Jade Richards didn’t have a lot to do at the back as the ball was always in the Bees half. She started an attack off that saw Kerri Welsh’s blocked shot fall to Amy West who also had her shot blocked. Sophie Haywood’s work on and off the ball through first half was incredible as she took on the defenders to create pressure but her work rate was unmatched in the first half.

London Bees had their first shot through a mistake and lack of concentration but Lauren Pickett fluffed her shot straight at Sian Rogers. As the first half was starting to come to an end we allowed London Bees to build momentum and as our season goes you could feel that something would happen and just before half-time once again we were punished. Villa didn’t clear their lines and it fell to Merrick Will who hit the ball from long range into the bottom corner making the score 1-1 (somehow).

What an incredible first half by Villa even with being stung late on. Some of the Villa play was incredible and how they had only scored one I have no idea!

Jodie Hutton finishes against London Bees.

Photos: Twitter

Within a few minutes of the second half Amy West took aim and hit a beauty of a shot but it struck the inside of the post and bounced back into the keeper’s arms. A wonderful effort but the luck was on the Bees side at that moment.

Once again Sophie Haywood who easily was player of the match again for me and took it upon herself to try break through Bees defence which she did with ease but didn’t connect with her shot and the keeper got down to save the ball keeping it at 1-1.

Two minutes later our defence went to sleep and gave a stupid free-kick and as Bees played a simple ball into the box that Rachel Unitt shot past a stranded Sian Rogers leaving them somehow 1-2 up in the game.

The rest of the game as a fan is hard to write about because it’s like we just switched off.  At 1-2 down Villa were still in the game and had two powerful and great finishers on the bench. Villa brought off Kerri Welsh our for Ashlee Brown who had been playing at right-back recently. At 2-1 down we took off an attacker for a defensive option. I don’t by any chance mean this against Ashlee because I love her. What’s next, Sian Rogers up front in last 10 minutes?

In the melee of the substitution Bees nearly scored but thankfully Sian Rogers, as she always does, pulled off a great save. The Bees took control of the game and former Villan, Destiney Toussaint put the icing on the cake as The Bees went 1-3 up.

This defeat hurt a lot more than the Manchester United Women game on the opening day because we were expected to lose that game but we kept going and it felt like even though we down we battled hard. This isn’t a slight at London Bees because you have to respect that at half time they turned the game round and took their chances and worked us out. That first half was incredible to watch, it contained some of the best football I’ve seen from this side but just like Halloween the same script evolved, we didn’t take chances and conceded.

I think the real annoyance was that you will see these three names in the Unused substitutions when the game was screaming for them – Ria Elsmore for Elisha N’Dow would have made more sense near the end rather than losing our shape completely. Tash Baptiste and Tanisha Smith both unused substitutes as well. I do start to wonder what T has to do every time she comes on gives everything and the game against Leicester she bossed it and was one of best on the pitch.

The game was Saturday night and as write this Monday afternoon it still hurts because this was a game we were in complete control of. I don’t blame the players because they didn’t stop trying but it’s like taking a leg off a table and trying to balance everything without being used to it.

Next up, Villa have an away trip to Crystal Palace Ladies next on Sunday so we will be hoping that we can bounce back and put right what went wrong on Saturday night. It becomes a must-win game as they sit just below Villa in the table. One good thing was we got sponsorship rolling so we can help our players through the season.

Aston Villa: Rogers, N’dow (Warner), Gibson, Richards, Ale, West, Haywood (Hall), Hutton, Welsh (Brown), Hassall, Hanssen.

London Bees: Beckett, Rolandsen, Will, Toussaint, Wilkinson, Forman, Johnson, Gibson, Unitt, Quantrill, Pickett

Stuart Barker
hellosince71@gmail.com