FAWSL: Tottenham topple Aston Villa in 2-1 victory

Rachel Williams of Tottenham Hotspur takes a shot.
Rachel Williams of Tottenham Hotspur takes a shot during the FAWSL match against Aston Villa at Bank's Stadium on 12 December 2021. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur traveled to the Banks’s Stadium to face Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon. Following a three-week hiatus from league action, both teams looked to improve upon their last league results.

Before the match, Aston Villa were hoping to carry the momentum from their 7-0 League Cup win at Sunderland last week. Tottenham, on the other hand, were looking to get back on track after losing 1-0 to West Ham in November.

In team news, Villa’s Emily Gielnik returned to the starting XI for the first time since September, and Tottenham captain Shelina Zadorsky returned after injury.

First half

The first chance of the game came in the eighth minute. Tottenham’s Rachel Williams had a wide-open shot on goal after hopping the ball over goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, but put it just wide of the target.

However, it was Aston Villa that would strike first. In the 19th minute, Alisha Lehmann found space on the lefthand side and crossed it into the Spurs’ box, where captain Remi Allen slotted the ball nicely into the back of the net.

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Their lead didn’t last long. Meaghan Sargeant fouled Ria Percival inside the Villa penalty box. Despite Hampton diving the right way, Kyah Simon converted from the spot, levelling the game. It was her first goal for Spurs after signing for the club over the summer.

The remainder of the first half was choppy, with the majority of the play stuck in the middle third of the pitch. Frustration was clear on both sides, which boiled over in a skirmish on the right touchline between Rachel Williams and Ruesha Littlejohn. Both players were given yellow cards for their trouble.

Second half

In the second half, both teams looked for a good start, hoping to bring more connectivity and fluidity to their play. The winner would come in the 68th minute as Jessica Naz made a run up the right flank and passed to Rachel Williams in the box, who scored cleanly to give Spurs the lead.

The home side found more flow in their play, particularly when Ashleigh Neville connected with Naz and Williams. But, despite Spurs’ attempts to press, Villa continued to pressure the Spurs’ defence.

A moment of controversy arrived in the 79th minute. Villa earned a free kick on Tottenham’s side that was played nicely in the box. Spurs goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela fumbled the ball, allowing Sargeant a chance to score. The ball crossed the goal line, but referee Kirsty Dowle waved it off. Depending on the camera angle, the ball looks to have fully crossed the line, and Villa will be aggrieved by the referee’s decision.

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Despite that disappointment and a slew of last-minute changes, Villa couldn’t find the equalizer. Substitute Laura Blindkilde was a bright spot for Villa after coming on in the 73rd minute, often linking plays in the midfield and creating chances. Villa were looking to improve their 1-0-2 home record this season, and the club will need to find a solution to that problem heading into 2022.

Looking ahead

After today’s win, Tottenham moves to third in the WSL table, and Villa remains in tenth. Both teams play their last WSL league match of 2021 on 19 December. Tottenham will look to continue their success against Everton, while Villa travel north to face Manchester United.

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