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Report: Aston Villa Women 2-2 Bristol City Women

A late equaliser saw Bristol City Women come from two goals behind to earn an important point against Aston Villa in City’s Barclays FA Women’s Super League survival bid.

Substitutes Faye Bryson and Ella Mastrantonio grabbed the all-important goals in the second half to complete a late comeback in the West Midlands which sees the Robins remain bottom of the league, however only one point now separates City from ninth place.

Match Report Sponsor: University of the West of England
Author: Lewis Barton

What happened? 

City went behind in cruel fashion within the first three minutes when Sophie Baggaley’s save ricocheted off Meaghan Sargeant and into the back of the net.

Freya Gregory received the ball on the left after Villa surged forward and the midfielder’s deep cross was met by Shania Hayles whose header was brilliantly saved by Baggaley – but unfortunately for the Robins, the save bounced onto the body of Sargeant and into the net.

Despite going behind early on it was ultimately a bright start from City, and Yana Daniels had a decent chance to level the game when she leaped highest to meet Jemma Purfield’s free-kick, but her glancing header fell just wide of the post.

The next big chance fell to Villa when Asmita Ale’s cross was met with a towering header from Stine Larsen, yet her header was directed inches wide.

The robust start from both sides continued with the energy levels yet to fall. Salmon tried her luck from range when she charged forward surrounded by Villa players and opted to shoot, but her curling effort didn’t have enough bend on it to find the top corner. 

Salmon pressed for an equaliser (JMPUK)

The home side then made it two through Natalie Haigh’s looping header.

Alisha N’dow sent a long ball into the box from the halfway line after the Villains original corner was cleared, and N’dow’s pass was met by her centre-back partner Haigh whose header looped over Baggaley and nestled into the bottom corner.

Charlie Wellings had a moment of great improvisation when she tried her luck with an overhead kick, but the effort was airborne for a bit too long and looped onto the top of the crossbar.

The Robins continued their search for a goal as half-time approached when Salmon met Kiera Skeels cross with a header from the edge of the box, however it was easily held by Lisa Weiss as the first 45 minutes came to an end. 

Aston Villa started the second half with the same goal-scoring intent as the first and almost grabbed a third when Gregory fired a fierce first-time shot from the corner of the box, but Baggaley got down quick and pushed the effort wide for a corner.

A nice passing move from the Villains was almost finished off by Chloe Arthur when she took aim from around 30 yards out and hit the top of the crossbar.

Ella Mastrantonio late free-kick earned City a point (JMPUK)

After a period of few chances, the Robins pulled a goal back with a brilliant finish from Faye Bryson.

Purfield whipped a low cross into substitute Abi Harrison who controlled the ball into the path of fellow substitute Bryson, and the full-back caught her half-volley sweetly on the edge of the box as it flew into the top left corner to reignite the belief throughout the squad. 

Both teams continued to push for a goal knowing that it would decide the outcome of the match, and in incredible scenes, substitute Ella Mastrantonio saw her free-kick from around 35-yards-out find its way into the net for the equaliser.

The Australian midfielder sent a deep free-kick into the box after Salmon was brought down on the counter-attack, and the Villa defenders were unable to head clear which confused the ‘keeper into standing still as the ball ended up in the net.

Villa threw bodies forward one more time with the clock ticking but it was too late as the full-time whistle blew.


Teams:

Bristol City Women: Baggaley, Evans ©, Pike, Humphrey (Rafferty, 90), Salmon, Daniels, Wellings (Harrison, 72), Palmer (Mastrantonio, 59), Sargeant (Bryson, 72), Purfield, Skeels.

Substitutes: Haaland, Allen, Bissell, Jones.

Aston Villa Women: Weiss, Ale, N’Dow ©, Haigh, Asante, Gregory, McLoughlin, Arthur, Iwabuchi, Larsen, Hayles (Petzelberger, 76).

Substitutes: Rogers, Franklin-Fraiture, West, Siems, Syme, Silva, Ewers, Hanssen.


Moment of the Match: Ella Mastrantonio

With six minutes added on and only one goal separating the two sides, the pressure was on to find the all-important next goal.

After being set off on the counterattack, Salmon was brought down after some good hold-up play, allowing the Robins to throw everyone forward with a minute left of stoppage time. Substitute Mastrantonio took the free-kick, and the midfielder sent a deep, floated ball into the box.

The ball hung in the air and the Aston Villa defenders were unable to reach the free-kick as it travelled towards the empty half of the net, and there were ecstatic scenes on the pitch and the touchline as Mastrantonio’s set-piece ended bouncing over the line.

No giving up.


Player of the Match: Molly Pike

The midfield battle went on from the first whistle to the last today, and Pike’s energetic and sedulous display saw her rise above the rest.

The Everton loanee has shown her class since her arrival in January and she was everywhere this afternoon – not just doing the dirty work by making some important tackles and interceptions, but her passing range and vision helped control the tempo of the match in City’s favour when it mattered. 

The contribution from Pike in the middle of the park played a massive part in what was a vital result ahead of the last two games of the season.

Workhorse. 


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