Oxford United Women 0-0 Aston Villa Ladies

Aston Villa Ladies and Oxford United Women played out for a draw, in an entertainingly open contest.

The result sees no movement for Villa, however Oxford move up the table thanks to a superb performance by Ini Umotong.

Ini Umotong, leading the line for Oxford United Women and current top goal scorer with two goals this season, was at the heart of all the Yellows’ attacks. However, centre-back Jade Richards was equal to it on each occasion.

The striker had the first chance of the game, after doing the dirty work. Tracking back, she won the ball in the middle of the park before releasing a long-range effort that went wide of the post.

The teams couldn’t be separated in an evenly matched first 45; with notable attempts by Alys Hinchcliffe, Beth Merrick, Emily Donovan and Jess Frampton.

Despite Villa having the lion share of possession, they lacked an incisive final ball to break down the opposition’s defence.

However, it was Oxford who looked the most likely to score on the break thanks to the pace of their front two that they possessed on the counter attack.

Minutes after the restart, Oxford looked to do just that. Umotong saw her driven shot well saved by Claire Skinner before seeing a bullet header cannon back of the crossbar.

Villa responded as Tash Baptiste had two chances in quick succession. Good play by Beth Merrick on the right wing opened up the opposition, yet Demi Lambourne kept them out.

Merrick looked dangerous on the right flank for Villa, causing problems along the Oxford back line.

Yet, neither team could find a way through two resilient sets of defences. Despite the Yellows’ persistent pressure on the Villa goal, Elisha N’Dow and Richards held firm to keep their first clean sheet of the Spring Series.

TEAMS:

Aston Villa Ladies (4-4-1-1): Skinner, George, Jones, N’Dow, Richards, Hassall, Moran, Hinchcliffe (Dale 74’), Merrick, Rouse (Shepherd 55’), Baptiste

Subs: Beattie, Crackle, Welsh, Porter, Potts, Shepherd, Dale

Oxford United: (4-3-1-2): Lamboure, Frampton, Haynes, Casley, Ini Umotong, Gane, Pickett, Franklin-Fraiture, Oliver, Donovan

Subs: Thomas, Deeley, Baker, Noble

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An Interview with Katy Moran

Aston Villa Ladies captain Katy Moran was frustrated by the lack of chances the claret and blues put away in their game against Oxford United.

She said: “We didn’t take our chances again but equally we defended well; they didn’t score, we kept them out.”

It’s not often a 25-year-old can say that they are one of the oldest players in a team. However, for Moran it’s something that she’s become used to saying.

Aston Villa Ladies are a young, upcoming group of players who are all determined to produce performances that they can be proud of. An attitude reflected in skipper Katy Moran. The former Birmingham City midfielder is a disciplined all-rounder and has been keen to nurture the younger players of the team since taking on the captaincy at the start of last season.

After returning to the first team, following six months on the sidelines, Moran has fitted back into the side with ease.

She explained: “I am getting back to fitness. Obviously, it takes a while to get back to fitness after six months out but I’m getting there.

“The girls keep me going and I’m training much more than I was before. So yes, I am getting there.”

With those words a relief to both coaching staff, players and supporters alike she scored her first goal since coming back into the fray against Coventry United – where she started her career – whilst adding stability to the middle of the park.

The game against Oxford United was Moran’s third game of the season, where she lead the team out after Beth Merrick returned the armband back to the experienced midfielder.

Reflecting on the game post-match, Moran said: “A point is a point at the day. We are still unbeaten but we are a bit frustrated with how the game went.

“It was end to end in the last 10 minutes. So, we have come away with a draw and we’re quite happy.”

Having been with the club for over five years, Moran has seen the changes that have been made to women’s football. Aston Villa have supported the Ladies side in the progression, which has included a move to Bodymoor Heath where they have been training twice a week.

With a new owner, the Ladies can only hope for more support from Dr. Tony Xia – who even mentioned a trip to India for the girls – in order to become a full time team; an ambition shared by Moran.

But, her main focus remained on the up and coming game against Sunderland in the 5th Round of the Women’s FA Cup.

She said: “We always do well against Women’s Super League 1 sides and we always step up our game.

“It is away from home but obviously, we have got nothing to lose. We are the underdogs, we can go there and we can pinch a win and get through to the next round. Hopefully we can reach the quarter finals for the third year running.”