Aston Villa WFC vs Durham WFC 27/11/2022
Rachel Daly’s 10th goal of the season made the difference at Bescot Stadium as Aston Villa women picked up 3 points in Group A of the Conti Cup.
A very cold Sunday night in Walsall saw a tight game as Aston Villa Women took on Durham Women in the Conti Cup. Both sides came into the game winless in normal time in the competition but with strong hopes of progression still, so there was plenty to fight for.
Durham started very brightly, looking to put the home side under pressure from the off, and they nearly had the dream start. Somehow, Hannah Hampton in the Villa goal managed to tip a powerful strike from a corner onto the crossbar in just the second minute.
Villa recovered from this shaky opening however and grew into the game as both sides worked away at trying to find openings in a cagey first half. Aston Villa looked like finding openings on the counter but Durham were still a threat coming forward.
Villa’s best chance of the early exchanges fell to Freya Gregory, who fired wide from Rachel Daly’s lay off after 13 minutes. Rachel Daly then had an effort of her own five minutes later, but she couldn’t direct her volley, from Kirsty Hanson’s cross, goalward. Durham were still a threat though, as they showed when Rio Hardy let go from range and forced Hampton down into a strong save low to her right.
Durham faded as the half went on though and Villa finished the first 45 by far the stronger. Kirsty Hanson and especially Kenza Dali should have done better as they each found space in the Durham box. Hanson blazed over and Dali could only sting the palms of McAloon despite being free on the penalty spot.
Villa carried this control over the half time break too and started the second half with plenty of possession as they searched for an opener. The introduction of captain Rachel Corsie in midfield made a marked difference in place of Ruesha Littlejohn, who struggle to impose herself on the game.
The game did not lose its caginess however, with neither side able to really create the clear-cut chances needed to open the scoring. Rachel Daly found herself offside often too often up top for the home side. Durham continued to be a threat from set pieces, with Villa forced to clear off the line midway through the second half, but the final bit of quality just wasn’t quite there for most attacks.
That was until the 73rd minute, when the clearest chance of the game presented itself to Villa substitute Laura Blindkilde Brown. Played through one on one, she could only drag her shot wide of the upright.
Blindkilde Brown didn’t have long to dwell on it though as the breakthrough came moments later. Spurred on by the substitutes’ miss, Villa came forward again and a lovely ball into the box found Freya Gregory at the back post. She squared it across to who else but Rachel Daly to tap in her 10th in all competitions this season on 75 minutes. Villa finally had found the quality they needed to break the deadlock at Bescot Stadium.
Daly nearly doubled the lead two minutes later as well, when Kenza Dali found her in behind, but the England international dinked the ball just the wrong side of the post. Villa had undoubtedly found their rhythm at the perfect time in the game.
That Rachel Daly proved enough for all 3 points in Walsall, with Durham unable to create another opportunity to equalise despite their best efforts. Villa saw out the game excellently and will be very happy to head to the top of Group A in the Conti Cup. For Durham, they will rue the chances that they failed to convert early on, but the 3 points were deserved for Villa in the end.
AVWFC: Hannah Hampton(GK) 8, Sarah Mayling 7, Rachel Daly 7, Kenza Dali 7, Danielle Turner(C) 6, Anna Patten 6, Olivia McLoughlin 6, Freya Gregory 7, Kirsty Hanson 6, Ruesha Littlejohn 5, Mayumi Pacheco 6. SUBSTITUTES: Rachel Corsie(C) 7, Alisha Lehmann 6, Laura Blindkilde Brown 6.
DWFC: Naoisha McAloon(GK) 6, Georgia Robert 6, Sarah Robson 6, Beth Hepple 7, Rio Hardy 6, Lily Crosthwaite 6, Becky Salicki 5, Dee Bradley 6, Ellie Christon 6, Grace Ayre 6, Jess Clarke 6. SUBSTITUTES: Hannah Greenwood 6, Saoirse Noonan 5, Maria Farrugia N/A, Mollie Lambert N/A.
Player of the Match: Hannah Hampton.