The training ground may be shuttered due to COVID-19, but that didn’t stop Tottenham Hotspur Women, who traveled to Walsall for an away match against Aston Villa at Banks Stadium. Spurs went down early to an excellent goal from Villa’s captain Remi Allen, but leveled from a Kyah Simon penalty kick. Rachel Williams put Spurs up for good in the 2nd half with a lovely strike assisted by Jessica Naz.
The match was not without a touch of controversy after Spurs cleared a late Villa chance off the line. With no VAR in the WSL, it was down to the judgement of the officials, who deemed it did not cross the line, and Spurs held on for a 2-1 victory.
The win, combined with Brighton’s loss at home to Manchester United, catapults Spurs up to third in the table with 17 points from 9 matches, four behind Chelsea and six behind league leaders Arsenal.
4’ — Robust challenge by Neville on Villa’s Alisha Lehmann. No card, but
8’ — Chance Rachel Williams! Ubogagu puts a through ball into the box to Williams’ feet, but she can’t direct the ball on goal. Drifts achingly wide. Villa come straight back on the counter through Gielnick, but her long shot is wide of the far post.
18’ — Goal to Villa. Well, that went against the run of play. Allen got a toe to a short ball into the box and just lofted it right over Korpela’s head and in. 1-0 to Villa.
28’ — PENALTY TO SPURS! Ria Percival got bowled over in the box, nailed on. Kyah Simon steps up to the spot... AND CONVERTS! WE’RE LEVEL AT 1-1!
36’ — Long free kick from Villa forces Korpela into a save; she palms the ball behind and out for a Villa corner.
45’ — Double yellow for Rachel Williams and Villa’s Littlejohn after a scuffle on the sidelines over a disputed throw. Littlejohn instigated it, but Williams seemed to have her by the neck. Probably a fair result.
HALFTIME — Probably a deserved result after the opening 45 minutes. Spurs looked like they edged the half, but it took a Kyah Simon penalty to offset Remi Allen’s lovely flick. Anybody’s match!
52’ — Villa starting off the half with a period of sustained play around Spurs’ box. They’re just a touch sharper coming out of the gate.
55’ — Scary moment for Spurs. A long Villa goal kick from Hampton takes a bounce right in front of Spurs’ box. Korpela comes out but is blocked and Villa nearly tucks it in the net before Korpela can go low to gather the ball.
62’ — Yellow for Spurs’ Maeva Clemaron for holding back a Villa player on a counter.
68’ — GOAL! RACHEL WILLIAMS! Jessica Naz gets the assist, slipping a lovely little ball into the box for Rachel’s run, and Williams just slides it past Hampton to Spurs in front 2-1!
72’ — First sub for Spurs — Angela Addison is on for Maeva Clemaron.
77’ — Yellow on goal scorer Remi Allen for hacking down Naz on a counter. Deserved card, that was bad.
80’ — Big chance for Villa! Free kick from Villa is collected by Korpela, but she dropped it and Villa punch it towards goal. Looked like Zadorsky cleared it off the line!! There’s no VAR in the WSL, and the goal is not given. BIG WHEW.
90’ — Sub for Spurs — Simon is off, replaced by Rosella Ayane.
FULL TIME! A good win against a determined opponent in Aston Villa, who had a very good goal and a couple of excellent chances. Spurs are now up to third in the WSL!
- Probably the correct result on balance — Spurs had a bit more of the ball but Villa looked dangerous on the counter. Sometimes you get a lucky bounce, and that was the difference today.
- Jessica Naz had one good moment in the first half, but really turned it on in the second. Had a couple of excellent forward balls to Rachel Williams — one that she missed and one that she converted. A really solid performance from Naz and a clinical finish from Williams.
- From the angle they showed on the FA Player, it’s impossible to tell if that late Villa chance crossed the line. It’s one of those argue-in-the-pub decisions that we all used to fight over before the advent of VAR. Ultimately you just have to trust that the officials got it right.
- Tinja-Riika Korpela had a bit of a shaky match today, spilling a couple of balls, one that nearly led to a goal, and looking a little wobbly coming off her line. Interesting that Becky Spencer, who I once thought was nailed on for the starting job, was on the bench today.
- Despite the win, Spurs looked like they missed Kit Graham, who just adds a little bit of spark to the offense (and has a wicked shot too). They’ll need to figure out how to generate more offense without Kit.
- Spurs are now officially the “best of the rest” behind Arsenal and Chelsea, and even gained ground on the Blues after they fell to Reading today. Lots of games to come, but Spurs are showing the results of some good offseason signings and even more hard work. Now go sign Kristie Mewis!