Spirits were high after a 1-5 victory in our final away day to London Bees. An unchanged team starting the game and Tottenham visiting Boldmere needing only a point to get promoted it was set for a great game, which unfortunately was spoiled a little by the lack of a decent official, but I don’t need to go into this as if you are a fan of football at this level you know what we are handed each and every game.
The game kicked off at 7.30pm and by 7.31pm we had the worst possible start possible as we found ourselves 0-1 down when Tottenham caught us cold as we conceded a free kick. Coral Jade Haines used some quick thinking to pull the ball back to Jessica Naz who curled the ball expertly into the corner leaving Sian Rogers no chance in the Villa goal. Sometimes the early goal can be a wake up call or can set the tone of the game it would be interesting to see how we bounced back.
We didn’t let it get to us as we tried to create and get into the game and it took till the 12th minute to have an attempt with our number 12, Jodie Hutton hitting a shot that went the wrong side of the bar unfortunately. The ball was a battle in the middle of the pitch as Tottenham tried to get past our defence as Asmita Ale, Ashlee Brown, Elisha N’Dow and Jade Richards stood tall creating a wall that the second placed side couldn’t penetrate.
Sophie Haywood and Jodie Hutton were busy trying to beat the Tottenham defence but Tottenham were clever in their play to stop us building and creating any clear cut chances. Sophie Haywood as so many times this season was at the heart of the next big phase of the game as a beautiful free kick was lofted into the box and as Sophie Haywood lept to connect with it the Tottenham keeper managed to pull off a great save to keep the score at 0-1.
Villa were starting to find the groove from the Bees game as the attacking flow was in full force as once again on the 40th minute Nadine Hanssen jinxed her way past the defence and hit a shot that again was only just wide. Villa wasn’t down there as three minutes later it was another chance for Villa as the ball rebounded to Alice Hassall who tried to hit it first time making almost too much of a good connection as it went over the bar.
The start hadn’t been what we would have wanted but Villa composed themselves and pushed Tottenham right up until the half time whistle. Villa had created the chances and had the better play even against the 12 people it seemed Tottenham had for them, hopefully the half time whistle hadn’t come at the wrong time and we could come out and recreate that in the second half.
It was nearly the same as the first half with 47 minutes on the cock Tottenham took the quick break and Rianna Dean got past our defence but her shot was claimed by Sian Rogers keeping the score at 0-1, but an early warning sign for Villa. But this set the fire for Villa as once again the queen of the rocket shot, the unstoppable force that is Amy West levelled the score up as she placed the ball expertly through the defender’s legs and deep into the corner leaving the Tottenham keeper no chance at all. I had asked her to score earlier on twitter and she never ever lets us down. While she was scoring another goal this season she won Aston Villa Ladies Player Of The Season at the Villa Awards show, which just goes to show again how valid that is and what a legend she is to Aston Villa Ladies.
The 52nd minute saw Tottenham bring on there impressive winger Angela Addison for Sarah Wiltshire (I want to make a comment here on why I chose Ashlee Brown as Player Of The Match as well, for me Addison is the most underrated player in the Championship this season and Ashlee after 90 minutes at Bees 4 days ago and 52 minutes already, she kept Addison quiet for the remainder of the game).
The 55th minute Tottenham had a wonder strike out of nowhere from the former Birmingham City player Coral Jade Haines as her volley crashed off the crossbar after showing wonderful technique.
The game was beginning to get stretched as both teams tried to get the win. Tottenham made their second change with Emma Beckett coming on for Sophie Mcclean. The next big moment of the game came also on the 67th minute as a beautiful cross into the box was agonisingly just to high by a whisker as Sophie Haywood couldn’t get her header towards goal.
On the 78th minute Tottenham made their third and final change with Anna Fibley coming on for Renne Hector, which surprisingly we hadn’t made a single one.
On the 82nd minute without having too much to do in the game once again Sian Rogers proved why she is such an incredible keeper as she got down low to save the effort of Emma Beckett and prove why to me she is one of the best keepers in the league. This would be the end of Tottenham trying to win the game it seemed as they set up shop and tried to park the bus as Villa threw everything at Tottenham for the final 10 minutes. Somehow a penalty wasn’t given for the ball striking a Tottenham players arm as she had an effort at goal. Alice Hassall got her head to the ball but couldn’t get it goalwards as she pushed and pushed to get the winning goal and spoil the promotion party.
It all came down to a free kick in the 90(something minute) as Jodie Hutton hit the ball hard and on target the Tottenham keeper fumbled and the ball landed to Jade Richards who connected with it and just as it looked as if the ball would hit the back of the net, our nemesis from back even when we played Coventry, in Ash Neville headed the ball off the line to give Tottenham the point they needed and to keep the game at a 1-1 draw as the final whistle followed.
In a game where the second place team was holding on and time wasting like you wouldn’t believe from the time they scored in the first minute. It shows the growth and improvement in our team in what our Ladies have done on the pitch and obviously off the pitch on the training ground. Gemma Davies has really turned this team into a team that plays football that is amazing to watch. We used to be a lump and chase the ball team for a long time but right now when we play and play well we can match up with most teams in the league and be confident we can come out with a result. Gemma also seems to get the best out of players when others have failed in the past but the whole squad has gelled together as a unit, an attacking and free-flowing team that is beautiful to watch.
We felt a little deflated after the game against Tottenham because we deserved to win but after a sit down you start to realise just how incredible the transformation has been since our first few games. And I can only talk for myself as always but I’m sure this would be echoed tenfold but SO PROUD of our team as they do us proud on the pitch. I write this a couple of days after and I sit with a smile on face and that is a smile of pride. We have one remaining game at home to end the season. We take on Crystal Palace on Saturday 11th May with a 5.30pm kick off at Boldmere. Hopefully we can end the season on a high and add to our points tally after we have already confirmed a sixth place in the league which again shows progression as we finished ninth last season.
Aston Villa: Sian Rogers; Ashlee Brown, Elisha N’Dow, Jade Richards, Asmita Ale; Amy West, Alice Hassall; Sophie Haywood, Nadine Hanssen, Jodie Hutton; Tanisha Smith.
Substitutes (not used): Aja Aguirre, Hollie Gibson, Hayley Crackle, Phoebe Warner, Aoife Hurley, Alison Hall, Kerri Welsh.
Spurs Ladies: Chloe Morgan, Lucia Leon, Renee Hector (Anna Filbey 78), Jenna Schillaci (c), Ashleigh Neville; Sophie Mclean (Emma Beckett 67), Josie Green, Sarah Wiltshire (Angela Addison 53), Coral-Jade Haines, Jessica Naz, Rianna Dean.
Substitutes (not used): Emma Gibbon, Megan Wynne, Bianca Baptiste, Wendy Martin.