A moment of individual brilliance from Mana Iwabuchi helped Aston Villa record a 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at The Banks’s Stadium this afternoon.
The Japanese international’s curling effort from long distance was enough to separate the two sides as Villa climbed away from the relegation zone in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table.
It was a disappointing afternoon for Spurs who could not break down a resolute Villa side. The hosts stated brightly but it wasn’t long before Spurs were dominating possession. That was until the ball fell to Iwabuchi in the 12th minute when she fired home a rocket to stun the visitors.
Villa responded to taking the lead, defending well and not allowing Spurs close to their goal. Despite still having the best of the ball, Rehanne Skinner’s side could not find a way through. Forward Kit Graham was their best performer, looking like the player she was last season and causing the Villa defence some problems.
As the game progressed, the confidence drained from Spurs, who showed none of the spirit that was present in their first 20 minutes against Chelsea last week. In the second half, there were times when Spurs seemed unable to complete a pass with balls going wayward or being intercepted by a Villa player. The North Londoners are clearly lacking in confidence in front of goal, even as they pushed on in the final minutes of the game, nobody really looked like they wanted to shoot.
This was a Spurs performance more reminiscent of the game at Everton early in the season than the early games of Skinner’s reign. The Lilywhites missed Ashleigh Neville and her marauding runs from full-back while her absence also saw Ria Percival pushed back to full-back though she has been more influential from midfield this season.
Villa on the other hand will be pleased with a strong performance throughout the team holding Spurs at bay. Interim manager Marcus Bignot has a good base from which to build with this Villa squad who have been underachieving so far this season. The January addition of Iwabuchi looks to have been an excellent investment as she impressed throughout not just with her goal.
Both teams are next in action on Wednesday night as Villa travel to local rivals Birmingham City, who for today at least are just one place above them in the table. Tottenham Hotspur host a resurgent Bristol City side who may have moved off the foot of the table as they play West Ham United tomorrow who are just two points ahead of them. The relegation battle is certainly hotting up as we move into the tail end of the season.