Previewing Aston Villa Ladies v Brighton and Hove Albion Ladies

Aston Villa Ladies are back in action this weekend against newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion Ladies.

After being knocked out of the SSE Women’s FA Cup by Sunderland two weeks ago, the claret and blues have had a week to recover.

Back at The Lamb, in front of a loud home crowd, Villa will be looking to get back to winning ways against Brighton.

In their last Spring Series game, where they were held by Oxford United Women, Villa reverted to a traditional back four as Ron Mellor took over the reins at the top with head coach Joe Hunt away on paternity leave.

Made up of Alice Hassall, Elisha N’Dow, Jade Richards and Hannah George; the quartet bagged themselves a clean sheet against Oxford – showing their resilience.

Ini Umotong provided tough competition for the Villa defence, however they stood firm for 90 minutes ensuring that they came away with a point despite sustained pressure.

Dubbed the ‘Great Wall of China’ by chairman Dr. Tony Xia, they lived up to their name.

Looking ahead, there are not any fresh injury concerns for Mellor’s team. Maddy Cusack remains out with a knee problem, that is likely to see her sidelined for the rest of the season. While Katie Wilkinson is still on the road to recovery following her long injury set back that she sustained in training last season.


An Interview with Maddy Cusack

In a youthful team where many of the girls have grown up together, having come through the talented Centre of Excellence, there is a sense of unity and togetherness within the squad. Win together, lose together.

Through the Centre, a quality that is taught is versatility. Enabling the girls to play in a number of positions when required, midfielder and England international Maddy Cusack has been called upon to be just that.

A key figure in Villa’s first team in recent years, former of Nottingham Forest and Leicester City central midfielder Cusack has been called upon to play in the middle of a back three in the absence of Chloe Jones, Elisha N’Dow and Jade Richards. In the game against Millwall you would have thought she had been a defender for you with a calm and assuring performance in the heart of defence.

A fan favourite and a much loved player in the dressing room, the 20-year-old is known for a crunching tackle and driving runs. An unsung hero who does the dirty work in the middle of the park, Cusack breaks down opposition play before starting a Villa attack.

I spoke to the midfielder about the season so far, their game against Watford at Villa Park, full-time contracts and growth in the game.

What have you made of the season so far?

It has been full of ups and downs. We’ve been inconsistent at times, playing really well one week and then not so well the next.

What has been your standout performance so far this season?

As a team I thought we played really well against Bristol at home. It was a big game for us and we had to get something from it. [The Ladies came back from behind twice to draw 2-2]

Are you looking forward to playing at Villa Park later this year?

Yes! Played there once before and it was unreal. The pitch is like a carpet!

Is it difficult being part-time, having to balance football with university?

Yes definitely. Sometimes I would leave the house at nine for uni and not be back until 10:30 at night after training! It’s like that for a lot of us though so you just have to plan ahead as much as possible.

Have you seen growth in the game since the World’s World Cup, ie in attendances home and away?

Definitely. There is so much more coverage from the press, on TV, etc. We’re always trying to build up our profile and increase our home attendances. But yes, people are more aware and interested in women’s football now.

Finally, what is your personal goal for the rest of the season?

To play the best that I can in each game and be consistent. Wouldn’t mind scoring a couple either!