Manchester City Women 5, Aston Villa Women 0
Manchester City hit five goals against Aston Villa as they looked to get their WSL campaign back on track and ease the pressure on manager Gareth Taylor.
Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway broke the deadlock with two goals early in the second half for Manchester City who went on to score three more late on courtesy of Lauren Hemp and Hayley Raso’s brace.
It was only City’s third Women’s Super League win of the season and at the expense of Aston Villa who they had beaten 8-0 in their last meeting.
It was a scoreline that City could have got closer to had Hannah Hampton not made some good saves for Villa to defy Manchester City who were looking for a reaction after their midweek derby loss to Manchester United in the Continental Cup.
Victory moved City up to 6th in the WSL, still 9 points behind league leaders Arsenal, but only 5 points behind Brighton in the 3rd Champions League spot.
And crucially, the big win might just kick start City’s season after their injury-hit start.
Jill Scott, Caroline Weir, Filippa Angeldahl, Lauren Hemp, and Ellen White returned to the starting line-up after the midweek defeat at Manchester United in the Continental Cup.
They replaced Ruby Mace, Vicky Losada, Laura Coombs, Hayley Raso, and Janine Beckie as City were reminded again of their long injury list that deprived them of even a substitute keeper on the bench.
Lucy Bronze was just one of several City players in the stand – both she and captain Steph Houghton were key players missing key chunks of the season to date and City’s porous defence had suffered from not having them available but the crisis was alleviating as City players returned from the treatment room.
City were positive from the start, a cross by Jess Park was collected by Hannah Hampton as City started well and began racking up corners against the packed Villa defence.
Keira Walsh also tested Hampton with a long range effort but crucially Lauren Hemp saw little of the ball as most of the action came down City’s right flank and Villa reacted quickly if the England winger looked like getting the ball.
Hampton came off her line to save from White as the frustration grew with Walsh firing high as Villa gave away few credible chances with City unable to move the ball around as quick as they would have liked.
Even set pieces added to the frustration, a disguised effort from Alex Greenwood, who was given vociferous support from the stands after she was reportedly abused by United fans in midweek, saw a ball into Ellen White bounce off the England striker and go wide.
Hemp tried to thread her way through a packed area and couldn’t properly test Hampton with her tame effort while Caroline Weir’s cross was blocked at post blank range by Remi Allen who put her head in the way.
Shortly before half time Hampton had to make a save from White after Stanway put a cross in that was knocked down to her by Weir.
And both Weir and Greenwood saw long efforts clear the bar.
Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah replaced Chloe Arthur at the break for Villa as they saw an opportunity to pressurise City.
But it was the home side who scored first instead with a 48th minute opener from Caroline Weir who drilled the ball inside the far post after switching to her right foot when Hemp cut the ball back to her.
Angeldahl missed the chance to double that lead immediately, her shot was deflected by Mayumi Pacheco for a corner.
But Stanway got herself on the scoresheet from Alex Greenwood’s corner two minutes, stabbing home the loose ball after Meagan Sargeant failed to clear it.
It seemed like a weight had been lifted from City’s shoulders, Taylor made a couple of changes and the side seemed to be playing with more freedom with a 2 goal cushion.
Khadija Shaw headed a Greenwood corner wide and Raso added extra pace to the right flank.
Emily Gielnik failed to get on the end of a ball into the City area as Villa threatened to pull one back as the game wavered with the visitors having to commit to attack
Shaw could made put the game beyond Villa but her near post shot was parried by Hampton before a three goal salvo made the scoreline look more emphatic than the first half had suggested.
City had been pushing for the killer goal and got it after Raso tapped into an empty net when Hampton came off her line to try and prevent a corner off Vicky Losada’s deflected shot only to see the Australian getting onto the loose ball and firing her shot in via a deflection off Elisha N’Dow.
Hemp quickly got on the scoresheet as Villa collapsed with Hayley Raso getting to a loose ball and laying it across the 6 yard box for Hemp to tap in City’s fourth.
Losada’s corner wasn’t cleared and the loose ball was lifted onto the crossbar by Hemp leaving Raso with another tap in with 9 minutes to go.
Raso could have laid on another goal for Hemp late on but the ball was just too far ahead of the England winger who was also denied by Hampton in injury time.
GOALS – Manchester City Women 5, Aston Villa Women 0
Man City Women 1, Aston Villa Women 0: 48. Lauren Hemp cut the ball back from the left touchline, and Caroline Weir wrong footed the Villa defence by switching to her right foot before curling the ball inside the far post.
Man City Women 2, Aston Villa Women 0: 50. Georgia Stanway stabbed home the loose ball from close range after Meagan Sargeant failed to clear Alex Greenwood’s corner.
Man City Women 3, Aston Villa Women 0: 77. Hayley Raso tapped into an empty net after Hannah Hampton came off her line to try and prevent a corner off Vicky Losada’s deflected shot only to see the Australian getting onto the loose ball and firing her shot in via another deflection off Elisha N’Dow.
Man City Women 4, Aston Villa Women 0: 78. Lauren Hemp quickly got on the scoresheet as Villa collapsed with Hayley Raso getting to a loose ball and laying it across the 6 yard box for Hemp to tap in City’s fourth.
Man City Women 5, Aston Villa Women 0: 81. Vicky Losada’s corner was half cleared, Georgia Stanway put the ball back in the box and Villa failed to deal with it again 0 the loose ball was lifted onto the crossbar by Lauren Hemp leaving Raso with another tap in with 9 minutes to go.
MATCH STATS – Manchester City Women 5, Aston Villa Women 0
Man City Women: Taieb, Stanway, Scott, Greenwood, Stokes (Mace 80), Angeldahl (Losada 73), Walsh, Weir (Coombs 80), Park (Raso 64), Hemp, White (C) (Shaw 64)
Man City Women subs not used: Beckie
Goals: Weir 48; Stanway 50; Raso 77, 81; Hemp 78
Aston Villa Women: Hampton, Mayling, Sargeant, Allen, N’Dow, Asante, Lehmann (Gielnik 69), Arthur (Boye-Hlorkah 46), Petzelberger, Ewers (C) (McLoughlin 69), Pacheco
Aston Villa subs not use: Rogers, Hutton, Haigh, Gregory, Brown, Littlejohn
Referee: Abigail Byrne