Aston Villa Womens Experts: Heartbreak in 3-0 defeat v Chelsea
We’re delighted to welcome author Freya Taylor and former academy player Lyndsey Bissell as our exclusive Aston Villa Women experts. Each week they’ll be collaborating to give their views on the biggest talking points at the WSL club…
On such a great run of form, will this finally be the moment that Aston Villa beat Chelsea at home? The Blues, who Carla Ward will be hoping are tired from their 120 minutes extra-time win over Lyon in the Champions League earlier in the week, are also in top form.
This will truly be a battle between the current WSL champions and Villa who have been nicknamed the best of the rest. Emma Hayes, however, has proven to be a huge fan of Carla Ward in the past, saying she always had great coaching ability.
Unfortunately, Villa are going into this without the best track record, they have lost all five previous meetings against Chelsea, conceding 11 and only scoring one in return. Hayes made a lot of changes to try and play the freshest team she has in order to deal with such an in-form Villa side.
Ward on the other hand has made a couple of changes to the starting lineup, with Lucy Staniforth coming in at right back and Laura Blinkilde Brown moved into a more central defending role.
One of the consistent stars of the Villa team, Hannah Hampton, was a saving grace during this match. Saving two shots at close range she showed her excellent reflexes and why she’s been called up for the Lionesses squad again.
Villa, sensing something needed to change, started to push higher up the pitch and would continue to adapt their shape to suit the game.
They favoured keeping quite compact which is a different style of play to what we’ve seen previously from Villa; maybe if they’d played slightly longer, as Chelsea were doing, maybe this would have opened play up and any sloppy passes wouldn’t have been exploited as easily.
Jordan Nobbs and Staniforth working incredibly hard in midfield, showing their vast experience in holding their own against a top-league team. However, the absence of Sarah Mayling and Rachel Corsie, due to injury, has definitely had a knock-on effect on the team’s positioning.
Due to the rapid pace of play at both ends of the pitch, a goal was certainly on the horizon. Unfortunately, it was the visitors who found the back of the net first; as Jelena Čanković saw the ball home after Hampton saved the first attempt.
Calls for a foul on Hampton soon followed, as her vision was impaired by a falling Magdalena Eriksson, however, it landed on deaf ears and play continued. If this goal was disallowed, could this have changed the outcome of the game?
Moments later, Villa nearly converted from a corner, but the shot found the hands of Mušović, rather than the net. Chelsea sensing danger were soon on the attack again, not wanting to wait to double their lead.
Guro Reiten sent a beautifully lifted pass from the right-hand side to find Rytting Kaneryd in the box, but our fantastic defence won again as Dan Turner closed her down.
Throughout the game, there was a relentless battle down the right hand side between Chelsea’s Jess Carter and our Kirsty Hanson, the latter coming off worse in a couple of challenges.
Proving why the blues defender has been chosen again for Sarina Weigman’s team. Overall, the sloppiness in our game play was our downfall; as this allowed Chelsea to not only win loose balls and create dangerous moments, but also to catch us offside due to our inaccurate timings when passing the ball.
Despite this, each member of the team stepped up their game to try and get something back in this game; which shows the resilience and character of the squad. However, it wasn’t to be. Even Rachel Daly coming deep into midfield to try and win the ball back showed how motivated the team were to win the ball.
Ideally, going into the second half at only 0-1 down would be something of a relief for Carla Ward’s side; however, this wasn’t to last. In the 43rd minute, Reiten finally got her goal after several attempts had been denied.
As the second half began, Villa seem to be moving the ball much better although Chelsea still wanted to dominate. So far, the blues have kept Daly quiet which has frustrated the England forward; contributing to why she is dropping way back to the defensive line to even get a touch on the ball.
Against lower teams, these passes and chances would have been enough, but they just aren’t cutting it against Chelsea; which demonstrates the level Villa need to be at to compete, and most importantly win, against the top four teams. Even with Villa’s current form, it’s just not enough.
Moments later, Villa’s fate was sealed as Sam Kerr was left unmarked during a Chelsea freekick and the Australian finally got her goal. Her 50th goal in 62 appearances in blue which is quite an achievement.
There was also a good chance for Daly in 75th minute, with Hanson providing a great cross into the box from the left hand side, but she just couldn’t get the angle right. The story of this match.
In the final five minutes of the game, some very intelligent play by Dali down the right-hand side to find Blindkilde Brown who threaded it splendidly through to Nobbs.
The shot was on target and almost curled past Mušović. It was definitely one of Villa’s best chances in the game and if they had played as smoothly as this from the beginning, the scoreline may have been completely different.
Fair play to Villa though, they have been determined to get something back in this game and have kept their heads held high throughout the match and kept fighting right until the end as 3835 fans saw the match end at Aston Villa 0–3 Chelsea.
We firmly believe the final score did not reflect the game, in fact, looking at the statistics, Villa had the better possession and opportunities on goal.
However, we know the skill and potential are right there, but as we have said since the beginning of the season, we need to be more clinical in front of goal and prove we can contend with the top four teams in this league. We can’t wait to see how Aston Villa return after the international break with many members of our squad taking up places in their national teams.
Aston Villa Women return to the Bescott Stadium on Sunday 16 th April to face Chelsea again in the Semi-Final of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup.