The points were shared in a tense battle at Villa Park yesterday as Aston Villa and West Ham United played out their second goalless draw in under a fortnight, in what was another crucial fixture in the battle for Barclays FA Women’s Super League survival.
The Villains held on amidst a flurry of late pressure from The Hammers to record their fourth Barclays FA Women’s Super League draw on the bounce, though they will have been looking for more given how tight things are at the bottom of the table. West Ham United dominated play for the most part, but a combination of the visitors’ attack not taking their chances and another spirited defensive display from the hosts meant the match ended as it began, in another stalemate between the two sides.
In what was a generally quiet first half, West Ham United had the lion’s share of the possession, capitalising on Villa’s struggle to keep the ball. Martha Thomas created a golden opportunity on the counter in the 10th minute, squaring the ball into Emily Van Egmond after a darting run down the right, but Anita Asante got her body in the way of the Australian’s shot, a crucial block to deny The Hammers’ an early opener.
The majority of the action in the final third came from set pieces but despite plenty of opportunities for The Hammers’, including a Kenza Dali free-kick fired into the side netting, none presented a true test for Lisa Weiss in the Villa goal.
As half-time beckoned, Villa finally started to grow into the game, however, the final chance of the period fell the visitors’ way as an added time goalmouth scramble and some unfortunate miscommunication in attack saw the East Londoners denied twice from point blank range.
Shania Hayles almost got Villa off to the perfect start in the second half, finding herself through on goal after a pinpoint pass from Mana Iwabuchi but somehow the ball stayed out of the net, Mackenzie Arnold managing to block two weak shots in quick succession.
This early pressure from the home side made way for a much more open second half as The Hammers’ quickly regained their composure after such a major let-off.
Chances fell to both sides in a higher tempo affair than the first 45 minutes. Stine Larsen scuffed a shot when one-on-one with the keeper before Thomas’ makeshift shot clipped the bar.
As the game crept closer to the final whistle, both sides dug deep in their search for a vital goal and as with The Villains’ last two games, the five minutes of added time were not short of action, producing some of the best chances of the match.
It was a nervy end for Villa as they valiantly defended their box from the oncoming West Ham United pressure, ensuring there would not be a repeat of their mistakes of their past two games. Van Egmond struck the crossbar minutes after Nadine Hanssen had made a critical clearance off the line to deny Gilly Flaherty’s goal-bound effort. However, in the end, The Villains’ defence held firm to increase the gap between themselves and bottom side Bristol City.
With games elsewhere going both sides’ way, The Hammers are now all-but-safe, sitting three points above Bristol City, while Villa will have to wait until the final day of the season to discover their fate.