✍️ Morgan pens new deal
Posted: Thursday, May 26th 2022
Friday, April 23rd 2021
Bristol City Women will be hoping to leapfrog Aston Villa Women and move back out of the relegation zone when they face Villa on Saturday afternoon (12:30pm KO).
Currently both tied on 11 points, the Robins sit bottom of the table behind Aston Villa only on goal difference, so victory in the West Midlands could potentially prove to be the biggest result of the season for City.
It was Vitality Women’s FA Cup Fourth Round action last time out for Matt Beard’s side, but the Robins ultimately fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Brighton and Hove Albion, which saw them knocked out of the competition.
Neither side were able to create any major chances in the first half, but City grew stronger as the half went on and had the best opportunity when Ebony Salmon cut onto her right foot and hit the woodwork.
Brighton took the lead in the second half when Naomi Layzell was penalised for handling the ball in the box, and Inessa Kaagman dispatched the spot-kick to send the Seagulls through to the Fifth Round.
Last five games: LDDLL
The Robins’ have found good away form in the league in the last few weeks, managing two draws away from home in their last two outings.
The last league fixture finished in defeat for Beard’s side after Arsenal left BA2 with a 4-0 victory, but if City could flip those draws into a first away win of the season against Villa, it would be the perfect result going into the last couple games of the season.
Last five games: LLLLD
The Claret and Blues picked up their first point since early February in their last outing as they earned themselves a vital point against West Ham United.
It’s been a tough few months of fixtures for Villa, with Marcus Bignot’s side facing and losing to all the top six WSL sides in their last six games before the draw against West Ham.
The West Midlands side face relegation rivals Bristol City, Birmingham City and West Ham in their next three league games – the results from this trio fixtures could make or break Villa’s season.
Bristol City’s last match against Aston Villa came during the Robins’ road to the FA Contintental Tyres Cup Final, with an Ebony Salmon brace earning City a 2-1 win over the Villains at Twerton Park.
Some heroic goalkeeping from debutant Benedicte Håland kept the scores level in a tense first half, and the Robins broke the deadlock in the second when Salmon was played through on goal, nutmegged the defender, and found the top corner from just inside the box.
Just three minutes later the lead was doubled, with the Villa players having deja-vu as Salmon was sent through on goal in a similar fashion to the first, she rounded the ‘keeper and slotted into the empty net to give her side some breathing room.
Nadine Larsen’s glancing header pulled a late goal back for the visitors to set up a nerve-wracking ending, but the Robins held on and earned themselves a spot in the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in their history.
Iwabuchi signed from Japanese side INAC Kobe Leonessa in the January transfer window, and the Japanese international has managed two goals and one assist for the Villians since linking up with her new team.
Iwabuchi has made 74 appearances for her national side, with the forward managing 31 goals in that time.
The two-time Asian Young Player of the Year and the 2018 Asian Women’s Cup MVP brings an abundance of experience to Villa, and she will be looking to use that to help her side in their relegation battle against the Robins.
Manager Beard has labelled this fixture the ‘biggest game of the season', and the 43-year-old is hoping he can use his managerial experience to help his youthful squad on the day.
“It’s the biggest game of our season without a shadow of a doubt,” Beard told Robins TV. “We know what we need to do on Saturday.
“Three points will be a massive lift for us, but the most important thing is we get something out of the game on the day. We’ve been training well; I feel we’ve been performing well, and I felt we were unlucky against Brighton on Sunday.
“We’re at the business end of the season now so there’s going to be different pressures, but we’ve got ourselves in a good position and we’ve got to continue to believe. I definitely believe in the group, without a shadow of a doubt.
“The biggest thing for me, and this is over time as I’ve got older and more experienced, is making sure as a group of staff we’re in control. There will be times where I might need to put my arm around them, there might be times I need to give them a gee up, so it’s just making sure we recognise that as well.”
Saturday's match will be available for supporters to watch on the FA Player App from 12:30pm.
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