An away day to Manchester City at The Academy Stadium on Sky Sports saw an early kick-off. We left at 7.30 am to get to Manchester before heading into sample hospitality before going out into the ground. Our usually crew was joined by Natalie and her minder Matt. A game where we set up with a back five to start with in the first half so we knew what the game plan would be as we got started. The teams walked out as the players took a knee and we got underway.
The match got underway to the pace and pressure you would expect from Manchester City as they had most of the ball in the early going but Aston Villa were going to be as defiant as they could be with some great and organised defending.
Hannah Hampton was kept busy early on with coming off the line and taking the pressure off as her song was on replay early on in the first half. The problem Aston Villa had was as they won the ball back we tried to get forward and as it got up top we couldn’t retain the ball and was back on the defensive once again.
Manchester City were on top without creating anything really of note but right at the end of the half Hannah Hampton showed just why she is the future of the game and why we love that she plays for us as she pulled off a fantastic reaction save from Ellen White. Hannah Hampton was annoying the City fan’s so much that even the person getting the ball at the end of the half wouldn’t give it her back as she would of probably tipped it around the post or over the bar. The half time whistle went with the score at 0-0 and a real shift put in for the first 45 minutes for Carla Wards’ Aston Villa.
The second half got underway and we made a tactical change by bringing on Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah and seeing Carla’s interview afterwards she seemed to question her decision but I can say that we all stood behind it and will always stand behind the decisions, we have a fantastic manager in charge and lucky that she is with us and not against us.
Timing is key to everything and as Villa looked to get into the second half an early goal changed all that as Caroline Weir opened the scoring with a fantastic finish to make it 1-0 to City in the 47th minute. But the real sucker punch was within 6 minutes of the restart it was now 2-0 to City and Villa had a mountain to climb to get back into the game. A scramble in the box saw the ball break to Georgia Stanway who somehow poked the ball home on the 51st minute.
It was nearly a fantastic return for Emily Gielnik as Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah broke up the wing and put in a fantastic ball across the box but it was so close but not quite as Gielnik couldn’t get the touch. Much like the Paul Gascoigne miss when he was so close but not quite. A moment that could have made the game 2-1 and put some pressure on the City defence.
On the 78th minute, two became three as Hannah Hampton tried to prevent the corner and did so well to keep the ball in, but as the luck was it fell straight to Hayley Raso who finished it off and also the game. But we had a collapse as 3 became 5-0 in 5 minutes. Hayley Raso became provider as she picked out Lauren Hemp but then also scored the 5th as well to finish off Villa’s day out at The Academy Stadium as the final whistle went at 5-0 to Manchester City.
Sometimes you look at a 5-0 scoreline and struggle to see any positives but you always have to look that we competed for big moments of the game. The first two goals came within 4 minutes of each other. And the final 3 goals were within 4 minutes. So 0-0 for 82 minutes of the game where we competed with a team like Manchester City. Some dubious decisions didn’t help us as well from the officials but you make your own luck and deal with it. But in Carla Ward and our team right now we trust. We can see the improvements and what we are striving to become and achieve this season. Our next game is against Sunderland away in the Continental Cup hopefully we will see our Academy players return to play once again in the final two games against Sunderland and Blackburn.
Man City: Benameur, Stanway, Scott, Greenwood, stokes (Mace 80), Angeldal (Losada 73), Walsh, weir (Coombs 80), Park (Raso 64), White (Shaw 64), hemp
Aston Villa: Hampton, Mayling, Sargeant, N’dow, Asante, Pacheco, Ewers (C) (Mcloughlin 69), Allen, Arthur (Boye-Holorkah 45), Petzelberger, Lehmann (Geilnik 69)
Goals – Weir (48), Stanway (51), Raso (77,81), Hemp (78)