For their first game away from home, Villa visited West Ham in the hope to continue their unbeaten run. Five draws to end last season and a win last week against Leicester City had the team feeling confident, with the additions of Gemma Davison to the bench and Emily Gielnik to the starting XI providing even more strength and experience.
Remi Allen filled in as captain again, as Marisa Ewers is said to be six weeks away from returning to the squad. Alisha Lehmann and Maz Pacheco both started against their former side and looked to prove that they had made the right decision making the switch from last season’s relegation rivals.
Villa was slow off the mark, with Claudia Walker creating several early chances for her new club – memories of her goal against Villa for Birmingham City last season still fresh in our minds. Goalkeeper Hannah Hampton made her first comfortable save when Leon got a shot away, but a defensive mix-up soon after left her exposed once more. The ball was given away inside the Aston Villa box and Leon was there again, this time able to find the bottom corner at the 8-minute mark.
Villa looked to respond but another mistake, this time from N’Dow, allowed Leon to take on Hampton for the third time. Our keeper stayed strong but West Ham was filled with confidence by this point.
After around half an hour, the dynamic seemed to level and Villa started to force attacks of their own. Emily Gielnik, Anita Asante, Boye-Hlorkah, and Alisha Lehmann all had opportunities to equalise, but we remained behind at the break. Carla Ward would’ve been happier with the latter half of the first 45 minutes, and following the comeback of last weekend, the belief was still strong.
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Early into the second half, Lehmann looked in on goal but was held back by Parker – no penalty given. We continued to push for the equaliser and Carla Ward brought on the fresh legs of Ramona Petzelberger and Gemma Davison to replace Chloe Arthur and Alisha Lehmann respectively.
The game continued with end to end play, both sides desperate to change the game. West Ham could have doubled their lead on numerous occasions, quickly followed by Petzelberger hitting the post for Aston Villa. With 15 minutes remaining, the match could have gone either way.
Into the final push for Villa, the players dug even deeper and the chances came closer. Gielnik and Petzelberger continued to link up nicely, and Shania Hayles soon entered the pitch to provide even more pressure. Four minutes were added for Villa to find that late upset, and they waited until the third. One of many crosses, this one from Petzelberger, found captain Remi Allen who headed it home and stole a point for the Villans. Two game-changing goals in two games for the new recruit and Villa can head home with a very well deserved point.
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