A strong contender for Goal of the Season from Mana Iwabuchi led Aston Villa to their first Women’s Super League win on home soil.
The Villains played host to Tottenham Hotspur at Banks’s Stadium on Saturday. It would turn out to be a crucial three points in the bag for the home side.
It was a scrappy, end-to-end start. Both teams were pressing high, but the visitors looked a shade more dangerous for the first ten minutes. Kit Graham’s deflected shot on target providing the clearest chance.
However, Spurs’ lack of clinical finishing meant they couldn’t capitalise on their bursts of dominance. As such, a thunderous 25-yard strike from Iwabuchi came against the run of play to put the home side ahead after just 12 minutes.
Spurs remained undeterred and kept up the pressure, creating a great chance to equalise soon after going behind. Weiss was forced to come out for a clearance and so was caught well off her line when the ball fell to Angela Addison, but her shot fell narrowly wide.
Promising buildup play repeatedly came to nothing in the final third. The strong centre-back partnership of Anita Asante and Elisha N’Dow neutralised Tottenham’s attack time after time, calmly shepherding the ball out of danger.
Despite dominating possession, the visiting team’s attack looked increasingly out of ideas as the first half progressed. A series of ill-judged short corners came to nothing and a few attempts from range by Kerys Harrop and Alanna Kennedy seemed like stabs in the dark.
Rehanne Skinner made two substitutions at half-time, replacing Addison and Rianna Dean with Jessica Naz and Rosella Ayane. Unfortunately, the swap wasn’t enough to galvanise Spurs’ attack.
The second half saw spells of pressure and wasted opportunities from both teams. A loose back-pass by Abbie McManus forced Aurora Mikalsen into making a crunching tackle on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick was overhit by Iwabuchi.
A flurry of free-kicks, corners and fouls made for a hectic ending as Spurs really turned up the pressure in the dying moments of the match. Loan signing Cho So-hyun came close to snatching the equaliser from inside the box but couldn’t keep her strike down.
In the end, patient and assured defending from Aston Villa saw them weather the storm and preserve their lead. Iwabuchi may have provided the only real moment of magic for Villa, but the entire team played with a confidence and cohesion that bodes well for their survival this season under Marcus Bignot.
A crucial three points in Villa’s relegation battle sees them jump ahead of both Brighton and West Ham into ninth place. They are now five points clear of relegation favourites Bristol City.
Tottenham Hotspur remain in seventh after a frustrating afternoon.