Match: Sheffield United Women vs Aston Villa Women
Competition: FA Women’s Championship
Date: Sunday 12th January 2020
Venue: Proact Stadium
Rogers, Hutton, Haigh, N’Dow, Ale, Ewers, Syme (West), Hanssen, Johnson, Hayles (Richards), Follis (Haywood). Unused subs: Hassall, Grengrass, Welsh, Kosinska.
Story in brief
Aston Villa Women saw off Sheffield United in a top of the table clash and continued their unbeaten season in the FA Women’s Championship.
Knowing that a win would take them six points clear of the Blades, Villa began strongly and created the better chances in a goalless first half.
Free-kick specialist Emma Follis’ curling set piece struck the crossbar before Shania Hayles spurned two great chances.
But the pair combined for the game’s defining moment when Hayles pounced on an error and set-up Follis to score from close range.
Villa then put bodies on the line to ensure that three vital points came back to Birmingham with them.
A defining moment
A loss would have seen Villa slip off the top of the table and Sheffield United take their place at the summit on goal difference.
That would have handed the initiative to the Blades with just eight matches left to play, but Villa’s destiny is now firmly in their own hands.
A trip to third place Durham on 9th February could provide the next twist in the race for the Championship title.
The difference maker
Emma Follis returned to her childhood club in the summer with the sole intention of helping Aston Villa to reach the Super League.
The winger’s contributions throughout the season have been vital, and she stepped up once again to down the Blades.
Having come closest to scoring from a free-kick, Follis was in the right place to make the all-important breakthrough.
Gemma Davies’ team are yet to lose in their 12 FA Women’s Championship matches this term.
But it won’t be the unbeaten run that has impressed the Villa boss the most, it will be her side’s relentless desire to win rather than settle for draws.
Last season, Villa had the most draws in the league (8) but this season they’ve shown that they’re not willing to settle for anything less than three points.
A Continental League Cup Quarter-Final against Super League giants Chelsea looms on Wednesday night as Villa travel to the capital.
The Women have two home games after that, taking on top tier Brighton on 26 January in the FA Cup before hosting Charlton in the Championship.