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.

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