Ladies secure promotion spot - report and reaction
Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs Ladies (FA Women's Championship)
Thu 02 May 2019, 13:32|Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs Ladies secured a promotion spot in the FA Women’s Championship on a historic night for the club, following a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, writes Rosie Bonass.
A super strike from Jessica Naz in the first minute gave the Lilywhites a dream start on Wednesday, but hosts Villa responded shortly after the interval with an equaliser from Amy West before a nervy 40 minutes followed for Karen Hills’ side.
By the final whistle, goalkeeper Chloe Morgan and defender Ashleigh Neville were the toast of the squad as their injury-time heroics prevented a late winner from Villa.
The Ladies’ first league draw of the season was enough to seal a top-two finish and avoid having to hunt for three points in the final game of the season, away to third-placed Durham, who, as a result, miss out on a promotion spot.
Hills kept the same starting XI who defeated Charlton 3-2 in their last match and within a minute of kick-off, Naz was causing havoc in the Villa defence. The young attacker brilliantly beat two defenders thanks to her excellent footwork, before she was eventually fouled by another Villa player to win a free-kick just outside the penalty area. The resulting set-piece was played short by Coral-Jade Haines to Naz, who curled the ball exquisitely into the top corner from 20 yards.
After conceding, Villa looked dangerous and piled the pressure on, particularly towards the end of the first half with two big chances to level the score from Sophie Haywood and Alice Hassall. Moments after the break, Rianna Dean had a great opportunity to extend Spurs’ lead – the striker made a wonderful run on goal but couldn’t find the finish to beat Sian Rogers.
Two minutes later, Villa got their equaliser through West, who slotted the ball into the far corner from the edge of the box.
At the other end of the pitch, Haines almost regained the lead for Spurs – her outstanding volley rattled the crossbar. Then, with the Lilywhites just seconds away from making their dreams a reality, Morgan produced an amazing save to deny Jodie Hutton from a free-kick in stoppage time, before Neville made a goal-line clearance to stop Jade Richards’ follow-up right at the death.
🙌 WE'VE DONE IT 🙌— Tottenham Hotspur Ladies (@thlfcofficial) May 1, 2019
Tonight's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa means that we have now secured a promotion spot!!
👏 Huge congratulations to our girls who have been outstanding this season! #COYS ⚪ #SpursLadies pic.twitter.com/BnX2aNn7Vr
“I thought the girls were outstanding tonight in tough conditions – Aston Villa were fantastic and credit to them they completely made a game of it,” manager Hills said. “The first goal in the early stages probably should have settled us down but if anything it fuelled the game a little bit and it was really end-to-end. We were under a lot of pressure in the second half and the girls dug deep, showed character and we managed to scrape through. It was a hard-fought game and credit to Villa, the 1-1 draw was probably quite fair. We’ve come a long way in such a short space of time and credit to these players – they completely deserve to be where they are.”
Captain Jenna Schillaci beamed: “I’m absolutely over the moon for everyone involved with the club. It’s been a tough season for us – we started off so well and put ourselves in a promotion position by January and since then we’ve had our wobbles but to come here tonight and get the point we needed is amazing, I can’t quite believe it – 10 years ago I just started playing because I loved football and I never dreamed that this would happen. When I look back at where the club started, where it is now is a massive credit to everyone involved, especially Glenn (the late Glenn Weaver), who started Spurs Ladies over 25 years ago. I’m so proud of everyone, so proud to captain this team of really talented players and this is just the start.”
Following her vital injury-time clearance, Neville added: “To clear it off the line in the 94th minute was crazy and one of the best feelings ever. Chloe (Morgan) pulled off a great save from the free-kick and I just knew it was going to come back in, so I thought I’d stay on the line and luckily it came straight to my head. There was a lot of pressure on us tonight and we wanted to get it done and dusted, so we can enjoy the last game. It could have been a better performance from us but we got there, so that’s all that matters. It’s the first draw we’ve had this season – what a way to seal the promotion place!”
Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs Ladies
Aston Villa: Sian Rogers; Ashlee Brown, Elisha N’Dow, Jade Richards, Asmita Ale; Amy West, Alice Hassall; Sophie Haywood, Nadine Hanssen, Jodie Hutton; Tanisha Smith. Substitutes (not used): Aja Aguirre, Hollie Gibson, Hayley Crackle, Phoebe Warner, Aoife Hurley, Alison Hall, Kerri Welsh.
Spurs Ladies: Chloe Morgan, Lucia Leon, Renee Hector (Anna Filbey 78), Jenna Schillaci (c), Ashleigh Neville; Sophie Mclean (Emma Beckett 67), Josie Green, Sarah Wiltshire (Angela Addison 53), Coral-Jade Haines, Jessica Naz, Rianna Dean. Substitutes (not used): Emma Gibbon, Megan Wynne, Bianca Baptiste, Wendy Martin.
Goals: Aston Villa – West 49; Spurs Ladies – Naz 1.
Referee: Lauren Holt.
Venue: Boldmere St Michaels.