It was a frustrating afternoon for Tottenham Hotspur Women at Banks’s Stadium as they traveled to take on 11th place Aston Villa on Saturday. Spurs won the reverse fixture 3-1 and were looking to rebound after a disappointing 4-0 loss to Chelsea last week. However, Villa’s Japan international Mana Iwabuchi scored what will surely be one of the WSL goals of the season in the 12th minute, curling a shot past Aurora Mikalsen into the top corner, and Tottenham couldn’t find a way past a resolute Villa defense. Spurs fell to Villa, the final score 1-0.
Rehanne Skinner made a couple of changes to the lineup that lost 4-0 at Chelsea a week ago. New loan signing Cho So-hyun made her debut in the lineup, and Rianna Dean was also brought into the starting XI after missing last week’s match. Aurora Mikalsen kept her place in goal for the (presumably) injured Becky Spencer. Kit Graham and Angela Addison made up the rest of the attack. Fullback Ashleigh Neville was out of the side.
7’ — Both sides have come out with a high press early, and the opening minutes have been characterized by turnovers and quick counters. No shots for either side so far.
12’ — First shot for Spurs. Kit Graham gets space in the center of the box that’s deflected, and saved by Villa keeper Weiss.
12’ — Goal to Villa, and it’s a beauty. Iwabuchi puts in a curler into the top corner for the hosts past Mikalsen. Can’t even be mad, that was a great shot.
16’ — Nearly! Weiss was waaaay off her line and Angela Addison fired a cheeky 30-yard effort at goal, forcing Weiss to scurry back. The effort went wide, but that would’ve been something!
26’ — Two consecutive corners for Spurs, but the only result is a shot from Kennedy that flashes over the bar. Spurs still having difficulty generating offense.
28’ — Another powerful shot for Villa by Iwabuchi but it’s straight into the arms of Mikalsen.
35’ — Good counter from Spurs. Kennedy feeds Dean in Villa’s box, whose deflected cross goes out for a corner. The resulting corner ends with a Kennedy header on target, but Weiss saves.
HALFTIME — Spurs take a 1-0 deficit into the break. Iwabuchi’s goal was excellent, but Spurs need to do more in the second half.
Two halftime subs for Rehanne Skinner — Rosella Ayane and Jessica Naz are on for Addison and Dean.
48’ — Second half starting much better for Spurs as they push forward for an equalizer. Naz and Graham linking up well.
60’ — Third sub for Spurs as Lucy Quinn comes on for Gemma Davison. Spurs still pushing for an equalizer.
66’ — Whoof, very nearly a penalty. Mikalsen rushes out to contest for a ball and clatters into a Villa attacker. Looked like it was close to being inside the box and a penalty. Yellow for Mikalsen and a free kick for Villa. Iwabuchi’s free kick is shanked out for a goal kick.
78’ — Spurs knocking on the door but can’t find a way through Villa’s back line. A couple of corners and a free kick come to little in the end.
90+ — Eight minutes of extra time to be played, Spurs haven’t mustered much by way of offense.
90+10’ — N’Dow fouls Graham forcing a free kick, but it’s gathered easily by Weiss, and the final whistle sounds.
- Super frustrating match. Villa’s press seemed to bother Spurs from the very beginning, and there were numerous moments of sloppy play and turnovers all over the pitch.
- Once again Spurs had difficulty generating offense in this match. At this point I’m just not sure where the shots are going to come from aside from Kit Graham — nobody else seems to be stepping up.
- Mikalsen had another somewhat shaky match — was lucky not to see red for a challenge at the edge of her area and had some poor distribution out of the back. Hurry back, Becky Spencer.
- I hate to say it, but I’m not sure Rianna Dean is where she needs to be to compete at this level. She tore it up in the Championship two seasons ago but has barely mustered anything this season or last. Didn’t have a single shot in the first half today.
- Cho So-hyun does look like a player and an upgrade in midfield, though she had her difficulties at times today as well.
- These are the matches you have to win if you’re going to compete in the WSL, and Spurs just couldn’t get it done. Now the pressure’s on midweek against Bristol City, who are rock bottom of the table. Tottenham drew them earlier in the season. They must win on Wednesday.