The stakes couldn’t be higher. Women’s Super League survival and local bragging rights are the name of the game. Birmingham City and Aston Villa take to the field once more in a ‘winner takes all’ local derby.
Bristol City currently sit bottom of the WSL with 12 points. However, the Vixens goal difference is so poor that a win for either Birmingham or Villa on Wednesday will almost certainly guarantee their safety at Bristol’s demise.
The mainstream media will pitch this game as the Second City derby, but for the fans and players it is simply about survival. Bragging rights are a welcome bonus of course.
The City of Birmingham is Blue
Last time out, the impressive Claudia Walker was the difference between the two sides. Walker latched on to a loose clearance from Elisha N’Dow and struck the ball with power just under the Villa crossbar.
The celebrations inside the Villa Park tunnel were captured on camera. Blues fans cracked open the bottles of champagne as they declared the City of Birmingham royal blue.
However, since that day in November, Birmingham haven’t won any of their 11 subsequent league games. The Blues have picked up some credible draws but they have slipped into a relegation dog fight.
Villains seek revenge
Aston Villa also haven’t won in their last eight games, since they beat Tottenham Hotspur back in February. The Villains are still ruing from their ‘if only’ last time out. They were leading Bristol City 2-1, only to concede a final minute equaliser to deny them all three points.
Interim Head Coach Marcus Bignot will have been working extra hard with his defenders to ensure they stay alert for the full 90 minutes. The Villians, with their vast array of ex-Blues players and coaches will be fired up for revenge.
Both teams are sure to fight to the end in this scintillating ding-dong derby.
Ones to watch
Sarah Mayling cannot wait for this game. Having spent 11 years with Villa and now the last four with Blues, she knows exactly what this game means. Mayling is currently Blues leading assist provider and she’s bound to be on corners and free kick duty.
Claudia Walker is Blues top scorer and she will be full of confidence having bagged a brace against Coventry United just over a week ago. Walker can hold the ball up well on her own but she will benefit from support of Jamie-Lee Napier and Emily Murphy.
Veatriki Sarri had an outstanding game against Coventry United but she didn’t feature in last weekend’s game. Having been out injured for so long, it is possible Sarri needed to recover, but if she does play she’ll definitely be one to watch.
Ones to watch
Aston Villa are building for the future and their young starlets are making a name for themselves. Freya Gregory and Olivia McLoughlin, both ex-Blues, have impressed through the club’s academy to break their way into the first team. Both youngsters have started in Villa’s last four games and deservedly so.
Japan captain Mana Iwabuchi is a delight to watch. Looking at her match stats, one realises how much ground she covers. Her touches on the ball span the whole pitch. She can create space and has an eye for goal.
Birmingham City: (4-3-3) Hampton; Scott, Brougham, Mace, Holloway, Murray, Littlejohn, Mayling, Murphy, Walker, Napier
Aston Villa: (3-5-2) Weiss; Ale, Haigh, N’Dow, Hutton, McLouglin, Arthur, Iwabuchi, Franklin-Fraiture, Gregory, Larsen
Where to watch
The match will go ahead subject to a satisfactory pitch inspection at Solihull Moors. Kick-off is 7pm on Wednesday, April 28 and the match is live on The FA Player.