Aston Villa Ladies approached their game against Millwall Lionesses on the back off two encouraging draws and on defeat against league leaders, Tottenham Hotspur Ladies. Behind the scenes, things seem to be coming together for the Claret and Blues, we move onwards and upwards as the season continues.
Millwall visited on a dreary, wet and windy afternoon that felt like a night. Like Villa, Millwall lost the backbone of their squad and are rebuilding, so I knew this was going to be a tough game as the Lionesses wanted to prove themselves worthy of competing at this level. Jodie Hutton was back on bench and after a touching speech by Tim Elsmore before the game and the minutes silence it was time for kick off.
Villa as always came out the blocks fast and was straight on the attack as Kerri Welsh wasted no time putting the Millwall keeper under pressure as it was tipped over the bar for nearly the perfect start.
Villa kept the pressure on Millwall for most of the opening moments with some great play down the wings between Alison Hall and Sophie Haywood, some of the balls were brilliant by Haywood switching play over Millwall defence including a ball into Nadine Hanssen who looked like opening score but somehow got the ball stuck under her feet. Again, the work on the wings was excellent as Hall laid down what was the blueprint as she whipped in the cross that if Welsh had an extra inch or two taller would have turned goalwards.
Eight minutes later Hall and Hollie Gibson worked the wing well as Gibson whipped the ball into the box point perfect as Welsh leapt like a salmon and connected and turned the ball into the net with a beautiful header and cross deserves a lot of credit as well.
Photo: Adam Nunn
It was all Villa after the goal as they went searching for that second goal. As we’re celebrating the ball hitting the back of the net for the second time in 5 minutes it was pulled back for a foul by Haywood on the keeper once again causing a nuisance to the Millwall.
Less than five minutes later once again who was it but Haywood who unleashed a jet of a shot that I’m pretty sure I celebrated going in but somehow the keeper pulled off the best save you’ll see all weekend keeping the score at 1-0 to Villa. The end of half saw more play by Villa as the 1-0 score wasn’t a true reflection of the way the first half had gone as it was all Villa.
A 1-0 lead at half-time and a huge second half approached. It’s was the best from the west as Amy West took aim, fired and nearly brought the net down as she hit the top corner of the goal, leaving the keeper no chance what so ever. This doubled Villa’s lead, the perfect start to the second half.
On the 57th minute, Hutton made her return to the pitch replacing Haywood who hadn’t put a foot wrong and was quite surprised to see come off at the moment in the game. What with the irrupting police helicopter that hovered over the ground, “it wasn’t me I swear.” Villa went on the attack once again as Asmita Ale surged forward and unleashed a shot that went high but great signs and great play all game by Asmita once again.
Villa came under pressure around the 70th minute when Millwall came forward and tested Sian Rogers in the goal but as always, safe hands Rogers kept the clean sheet she had deserved against Leicester that was robbed away by a penalty but today she kept everything out that came her way including dealing with a short pass back seeing her play sweeper keeper.
Phoebe Warner came on to replace Hanssen and as always Phoebe hustled and bustled during the end of the game showing her array of tricks that nearly brought a chance late on but the game finished 2-0 to Villa Ladies a result that was deserved and rightly earned.
The relief to finally get a result we deserved and had worked so hard for was a huge relief when the final whistle went. It’s a process and a journey when you have to rebuild and have a new manager but it one that truly love being part of and that this is my team win or lose so proud of the effort shown on and off the pitch. The togetherness is something thrown around a lot in football but you can see every single player wants the best for every other player, no egos, no dramas just love.
We have risen to ninth place with a week off next week before travelling to Lewes FC Women away on the 18th at The Dripping Pan, a place and team looking forward to travelling too once again to get behind our girls in the Claret and Blue.
Aston Villa: Rogers, Gibson, Ale, N’Dow, Richards, West, Hassall, Haywood (Hutton 57), Hall, Welsh, Hanssen
Unused subs: Aguirre, Elsmore, Gane, Smith, Brown, Warner
Millwall Lionesses: Sansom, Cowan, Powell, Priest, Charles, Giddings, Bailes (Rossiter 61), Fitzgerald, Lumsden (Cataldo 61), Clarke (Auguste 76), Ravenscroft
Unused subs: Taylor, Wilkinson