We had been promised a game with our Academy players would be playing and we was all excited to see our future crop coming in and testing themselves against a Championship outfit. When the line up came out we had 2 Academy players in the starting line up and three on the bench. Olivia Rabjohn and Evie Rabjohn joined players such as Freya Gregory, Laura Blindkilde-Brown and Olivia McLoughlin to show the pathway from the Academy to the First Team. Sheffield had named a very strong team so it was going to be a real test.
Aston Villa got off to a bad start when Sheffield United took an early lead with only 9 minutes on the board after some quick passing and a tidy finish by Katarzyna Lipka that left Sian Rogers no chance in the Villa goal as Sheffield took the 0-1 lead.
Less than 5 minutes later Shania Hayles was first fouled outside the box but got into the box before being taken out that looked like a stonewall penalty but the referee gave nothing.
And just to make things even worse Sheffield United were awarded a penalty of their own as Jodie Hutton caught the Sheffield player running through. Courtney Sweetman-Kirk stepped up to take the penalty and she loves scoring against the Villa as she sent Sian Rogers the wrong way as Sheffield had a 0-2 lead after 20 minutes.
A tough start for our team and it was time to see what they was made of. Laura Blindkilde-Brown was a real bright spark in the middle of the pitch trying to get Villa forward and she had Villa’s first real effort. On the 30th minute she kept Fran Kitching honest as she had to pull off a smart save. It was a tough first half but Laura Blindkilde-Brown and Olivia McLoughlin were stand out’s during the first 45 minutes. We went into the break 0-2 down with a lot to do in the second half.
Villa made a substitute at half time with Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah coming onto replace Shania Hayles who looked like she had took a knock in the first half. And it was only a few minutes before Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah was on the scoresheet as she diverted Freya Gregory’s shot into the back of the net on the 47th minute bringing Villa back into the game. 1-2 with a full half still to play. This kicked Villa onto start putting pressure on the Sheffield United defence.
A big shout out to Sian Rogers who has the heart of a lion and always puts herself in line of fire for the team and this was shown after some good saves before she got caught pulling off another one but she left the pitch with a bloody mouth, but also the quality she is on and off the pitch even with a bust lip she came to say thank you for coming.
This was all happening as Isobel Goodwin and Deearna “Missy” Goodwin was waiting to come on to make her debut but a few minutes they finally came onto the pitch. Anyone who knows how excited was for this as big fan already with Missy coming onto the pitch to make her debut for Aston Villa Women as well as Isobel Goodwin coming back from injury.
Villa towards the end of the game we’re pushing and looked better as they looked for the equalising goal in the game. Hannah Hampton pulled off a fantastic save late on to keep Villa into the game. But Villa just couldn’t find that important goal to push penalties but just before the end of the game a fifth debut for Villa as Mary McAteer came onto the pitch in injury time but the game finished 1-2 to Sheffield United as the final whistle went.
In reflection after the final whistle, it was a tough first half with the two goals in quick succession and the penalty that Villa didn’t get that should have been. But a much better second half with Aston Villa pushing Sheffield United and a real tough test against a good Championship team. The 5 debuts of Academy players making the debut for the first team in Deearna Goodwin, Isobel Goodwin, Olivia Rabjohn, Evie Rabjohn and Mary McAteer will be the biggest plus from the night.
Really hope that we continue to grow and develop our Academy players In the remaining two Continental Cup games against Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers. The Future Is Now and we have a great future at Aston Villa. Up The Villa!! Aston Villa take on Manchester City on Saturday at The Academy Ground with an 11.30am kick-off.
Aston Villa: Sian Rogers (Hannah Hampton 76), Olivia McLoughlin, Natalie Haigh, Evie Rabjohn, Jodie Hutton, Olivia Rabjohn (N’Dow 45), Laura Blindkilde-Brown, Ruesha Littlejohn (Isobel Goodwin 77), Gemma Davison (Deearna Goodwin 77), Shania Hayles (Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah 45), Freya Gregory (Mary McAteer 97).
Sheffield United: Fran Kitching, Charlotte Newnsham, Tara Bourne, Georgia Roberts, Sophie Walton, Maddy Cusack, Alethea Paul, Katarzyna Lipka (Matilda Taylor 85), Jess Clarke (Bex Rayner 90), Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Lucy Watson