Aston Villa 0-1 Birmingham City
by Ben Gilby
One moment of magic from Claudia Walker settled the first ever competitive Villa v Birmingham second city derby in women’s football history in what was, in all honesty a dire game at Villa Park.
This was a game of huge importance, not just with local bragging rights at stake, but in the vital scrap for points towards the bottom of the table.
Villa went into the game on the back of their first ever FAWSL win last weekend at fellow strugglers Brighton & Hove Albion. Birmingham were decimated by injuries to the extent that they could only name two substitutes compared to Villa’s nine.
The home side had the territory and more possession in the opening half, but they could never build on either advantage due to poor quality final passes.
A half chance fell to Jodie Hutton after eight minutes after a threatening move involving Stine Larsen and Shania Hayles but the Blues mopped up the danger.
Hayles was the stand out player in the first half for the Villains, she was busy and industrious. It was the Burton born striker who had the first shot on goal which was aimed straight at Hannah Hampton in the Birmingham goal.
The visitors fashioned their sole opportunity of the first period when Molly Green’s weak effort was easily snaffled up by Lisa Weiss.
The remaining half chances all went the way of the home side. First, Jodie Hutton’s great run down the left ended in a cross that was way above anyone. Just before the break Villa earned a free-kick when Rebecca Holloway fouled Ella Franklin-Fraiture on the right, in line with the six yard-box. Hutton’s set piece was headed well wide by Larsson.
Birmingham rallied after the break and had the better of the second half of a game which rarely rose above average. Three minutes into the second half, Chloe McCarron fired a shot over the bar.
With twenty minutes remaining, Villa created another chance when Georgia Brougham cleared Nadine Hanssen’s shot from under the bar for a corner. From the resulting flag kick, Marisa Ewers’ effort went well wide.
Then, with seventy-two minutes played, the one moment of quality arrived. Stine Larsen lost possession to Brougham who combined with Rachel Corsie. The ball found its way out to the right wing when substitute Lucy Whipp pulled in a first time cross. Elisha N’Dow’s attempted clearance went straight to Claudia Walker who smashed it straight into the net from the edge of the area.
Despite facing adversity, Aston Villa could not create anything approaching real quality in their search for an equaliser and this will be a desperate disappointment against their injury ridden cross-city rivals.
The Blues have now won as many games as Manchester City this season and stand nine points ahead of the sole relegation place already. This statistic will likely mean that today’s win could already ensure Birmingham City will remain a FAWSL side next season.
Teams: ASTON VILLA: Weiss, Franklin-Fraiture, N’Dow, Asante, Siems, Ewers, Arthur, Petzelberger, Larsen, Hayles, Hutton. Substitutes: Rogers (GK), Ale, Follis, West, Syme, Haigh, Haywood, Silva, Hanssen.
BIRMINGHAM CITY: Hampton, Scott, Corsie, Brougham, Holloway, Murray, McCarron, Green, Scofield, Kelly, Walker. Substitutes: Whipp, Toussaint.
Scorer: Walker 72.
Referee: Rebecca Welch.