Villa Ladies verdict: Hunt - Plenty of positives to take
Head Coach Joe Hunt saw plenty of second half positives from his team despite the 2-0 loss to Doncaster Belles in the opening match of the Women's Super League.
Villa Ladies went down 2-0 to the Belles at Sutton Town in front of 307 fans, the opposition goals coming from Bethany England and Sue Smith.
The claret and blues showed industry in the first half but simply couldn't get much possession against the vastly-experienced visitors, England giving them a half-time lead.
But after a dressing room rallying call from Hunt, boss Ron Mellor, skipper Dani Petrovic and other senior players, the hosts came out and made a real fight of it after the break.
They had chances through Sarah Mayling as well as subs Carly Davies and Alicia Robinson but their supremacy was halted when Smith blasted home a well-taken spot-kick.
Despite the result, Hunt saw encouraging things on the final whistle.
He said: "It was a much-improved second half, no doubt about it.
"It simply wasn't good enough in the first half and, to be fair, they knew it.
"We were miles off - our passing wasn't good enough and we weren't close enough to them - they all knew that at half-time in the dressing room.
"There were a few words said in there by a few of the senior ones like skipper Dani. She said it wasn't acceptable.
"They pulled themselves together after the break. There was a better tempo, we were on the front foot, we got at them and we got closer to them. We had a few opportunities too.
"But the penalty killed us. It gave them that cushion. And it was bad all round. It was a bad kick from Caitlin and then we didn't clear our lines.
"But that second half was encouraging. We were on the front. We were better.
"Saying all that, we can't keep going in at half-time behind and not up to the right tempo. When we're at tempo, we're a good team but when we drop off, we struggle at times.
"Now it's about having that second half performance for 90 minutes.
"I am heartened by the second half. It gives us plenty to work on. We take the positives out of that second half. We were good.
"We had good chances - Carly had a shot saved, Sarah too and Alicia almost lobbed the keeper from way out.
"The subs did well I thought. Maddy did well at right-back when she dropped back, Alicia was getting on the ball and trying to be creative, Chloe dropped back and did well and Carly was a threat.
"We don't like losing. We want to be up there challenging. We want to be giving our home crowd something to cheer about. There was a good turnout."
Hunt revealed that Abbeyleigh Stringer [ankle] and Elisha N'Dow [ankle] will both be assessed this week.