Ward’s Well Organised Villa Narrowly Lose To Full Strength Chelsea

Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa

Words and Pictures by Ben Gilby

Above: Chelsea celebrate after Beth England’s first half header sealed their 1-0 win at Kingsmeadow. Photo: Ben Gilby

Chelsea ended their pre-season campaign with victory over Aston Villa in front of over 1,000 noisy spectators at Kingsmeadow.

It was a disjointed performance from Emma Hayes Champions, although with all her returning Olympians in action for the first time since returning from Tokyo, it was to be expected. The positives for Chelsea were a run out for all the senior players with the exception of Lauren James who Hayes has stated will not be ready for a while yet.

Above: Chelsea’s starting eleven last night – (Back Row:) Jess Carter, Melanbie Leupolz, Millie Bright, Ann-Katrin Berger, Magda Eriksson, Niamh Charles. (Front Row): Ji, Erin Cuthbert, Pernille Harder, Beth England, Guro Reiten. Photo: Ben Gilby.

Despite the defeat, Villa boss Carla Ward will surely be very pleased with her squad’s showing. Exceptionally well organised at the back with Alisha Lehmann a big threat along the right hand side and Hannah Hampton solid in goal.

Above: Alisha Lehmann, the pick of the crop for Aston Villa, here seen getting away from Guro Reiten. Photo: Ben Gilby.

In a cagey opening, the vast majority of play from a Chelsea perspective was through the middle. Erin Cuthbert was finding acres of space on the left but not found with any regularity by her team mates. This was a missed opportunity for the Blues as on the occasions the Scottish terrier was involved, she created real danger.

Above: Erin Cuthbert, reliable and strong once more. Photo: Ben Gilby

Villa created several opportunities in the first half with the Lehmann providing balls across for Freya Gregory, but her finishing was off target.

Above: Freya Gregory fires in an effort for Aston Villa in the first half. Photo: Ben Gilby

The Blues punished Villa for these missed opportunities on 24 minutes when Guro Reiten’s cross was headed in by Beth England.

Above: Beth England, scorer of Chelsea’s only goal. Photo: Ben Gilby

Chelsea struggled to construct real out and out chances on the night and when they did, they found Hannah Hampton in decent form in the Villa goal.

Above: Hannah Hampton clears the danger whilst under pressure from Beth England. Photo: Ben Gilby

Cuthbert was very unlucky not to have doubled Chelsea’s lead on the hour when her shot went agonizingly wide and not long afterwards, Pernille Harder’s effort lacked the power to trouble Hampton.

Above: Pernille Harder, who had an effort was saved by Hannah Hampton. Photo: Ben Gilby

With 20 minutes to go, Chelsea brought on nine substitutes with only Jess Carter and Magda Eriksson remaining on the pitch.

Above: It was another assured performance at the back from Magda Eriksson, one of only two players who played the full 90 minutes for Chelsea. Photo: Ben Gilby.

These raft of changes did bring the opportunity for the renewal of the telepathic partnership between Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr. There was one glorious link up between the two at the death when Kirby popped up on the left flank and played a sublime ball into Kerr who shot wide.

Above: Sam Kerr put in a 20 minute cameo from the bench. Photo: Ben Gilby

With the FASWL starting next week, both teams will have work to do to build on what was on display last night. Chelsea journey to the Emirates to take on Arsenal in a mouth watering clash and Aston Villa need to find a way of finishing the chances that Lehmann creates when they host newly promoted Leicester City. But, for now it’s just great for the fans to be able to see their heroes again before the pressure of domestic and European club football begins again.

To see Ben Gilby’s full photo gallery of 54 pictures from the game, click on this link to visit our @ImpetusFootball Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ImpetusFootball/photos/pcb.127657239592529/127656686259251/ Don’t forget to “like” and follow the page whilst you’re there!

Above: More classy touches from Melanie Leupolz at Kingsmeadow last night. Photo: Ben Gilby

Teams: CHELSEA: Berger (Musovic 69); Carter, Bright (Nouwen 69), Eriksson, Charles (Fox 69); Ji (Spence 69), Leupolz (Ingle 69); Cuthbert (Fleming 69), Harder (Kirby 69), Reiten (Andersson 69); England (Kerr 69). Substitute Not Used: Telford (GK).

Scorer: England 24.

ASTON VILLA: Hampton (Rogers 68), Mayling, Sargeant (Ndow 31), Asante, Pacheco, McLoughlin, Allen, Trialist (Brown 62), Lehmann (Hayles 82), Boye-Hlorkah, Gregory (Trialist 68). Substitutes Not Used: Arthur, Goodwin, McAteer, Rabjohn.

Attendance: 1,000.

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