Carla Ward’s flying Aston Villa took on Emma Haye’s title-contending Chelsea in a thrilling semi final today at the Poundland Bescot Stadium, home to the villains in Walsall.
Villa put out a familiar starting eleven to usual despite captain Rachel Corsie missing in midfield due to injury and Sarah Mayling returning at right back from missing the Villain’s last run-in with Chelsea in the league on the 2nd of April.
Forward, Simone Magill and Midfielder, Remi Allen also returned to the claret and blue bench following time on the side lines for both nursing ACL injuries.
Chelsea started strong with the likes of Sam Kerr, Lauren James and Guro Reiten up front giving plenty for the Villa defence to contend with.
A brilliant turn out at the Bescot Stadium with over 5,000 home and away fans in the stands and claret and blue flags provided for all villains making for a kick off full of semi final atmosphere.
Chelsea began to dominate with most of the play in the first ten minutes with a decent attempt from Eriksson with a header from the centre of the box despite Villa number one Hannah Hampton comfortably saving it.
The Blues attempts continued with multiple Lauren James shots just missing the goal with Sam Kerr coming close to netting a few times also.
However, a brilliant Rachel Daly strike nearly helped the villains take the lead but was blocked by Eriksson. Chelsea had one final first half attempt to go ahead with Perisset’s effort but it went sailing over the bar from the shot at the back post.
Chelsea opened the second half strong as expected again and Cankovic’s attempt hit the post with force but Villa remained resilient trying good runs forward of their own. Chelsea finally took the lead with Kerr leaping at the far post to score in the 59th minute to convert Reiten’s cross over the box.
The final third of the game was filled with a plethora of Aston Villa chances with the likes of right back Sarah Mayling taking a brilliant shot from the right side of the edge of the box but unable to reach the net.
Australian forward Sam Kerr found herself through on goal following a fantastic run on the counter attack as she looked sure to seal Chelsea’s win into the final but Hannah Hampton confidently won the channel to deny her.
After four minutes of additional time, it was confirmed that it would be Chelsea heading back to Wembley trying for a third consecutive FA Cup title but Villa’s efforts were fantastic as they put in a brilliant performance trying to keep the current holders at bay.
Aston Villa: Hampton (GK), Mayling, Turner (c), Patten, Pacheco, Staniforth, Nobbs, Lehmann, Hanson, Daly
Chelsea: Musovic (GK), Périsset, Mjede, Eriksson (c), Carter, James, Leupolz, Cuthbert, Reiten, Cankovic, Kerr