Match: Durham Women v Aston Villa Women
Competition: Continental League Cup
Date: Sunday 22nd September 2019
Venue: New Ferens Park
Sharpe x2, Holmes
Line-up Rogers, Ale, Richards, N’Dow (Ewers), Franklin, Syme, Hanssen, West, Warner (Haywood), Hayles (Johnson), Welsh. Unused subs: Follis.
Story in brief
Aston Villa Women suffered their first defeat of the season as they lost their League Cup opener in the North East.
Head Coach Gemma Davies rotated her squad and made five changes as she gave game time to a number of players who’ve been on the fringes to start the campaign.
Villa struggled for cohesion against a strong Durham side, heading in at half-time 2-0 down following Molly Sharpe’s brace.
And despite improving after the break, the visitors headed home with nothing to show for their efforts as Abby Holmes wrapped up the win for the hosts.
It’s a squad game
In their opening four league games, Villa had been able to field a relatively unchanged starting XI as they made a perfect start to the campaign.
But Davies took the opportunity to shuffle her pack against Durham, giving her fringe players a chance to shine.
And while the decision may not have paid off with the result, minutes in the tank will be important going forward for a number of the players who made their first starts of the season.
Super sub gets her chance
Shania Hayles has earned the tag of ‘super sub’ after coming off the bench to net against both London City Lionesses and Crystal Palace this season.
But the winger got her first opportunity to start a match since she returned to the club from Birmingham City in the summer.
And she was Villa’s most threatening player on the day, striking the post after a mazy dribble into the box.
Captain Jade Richards made her first appearance of the season, slotting into the back four.
Having missed the first two games of the season before watching her replacement Natalie Haigh excel in the heart of defence, Richards will have been delighted to be back in the starting XI.
There is plenty of competition for places across the Villa team, exemplified by the skipper’s attempts to force her way into a winning team.
Aston Villa Women have a three-week break before they return to action in the league, taking on Charlton Athletic at The Valley on 12 October.
The team’s next home game takes place on 19 October when they continue their League Cup campaign against Sheffield United at Boldmere St Michaels FC. Tickets are available here.