Aston Villa 2-4 Tottenham Hotspur: Martha Thomas takes home the match ball as Spurs go top of the table

Seeking to bounce back at the first time of asking after heartbreakingly departing the capital with nothing to show for their efforts, despite leading Arsenal after ninety minutes, Carla Ward named three changes to her Aston Villa lineup on Saturday.

Sitting only a solitary point off the summit of the Barclays Women’s Super League standings after emerging victorious in two of their three opening encounters of the 2023/24 campaign, Tottenham Hotspur boss Robert Vilahamn made only the one change to his starting eleven – with Jessica Naz replacing Drew Spence from the side that emerged victorious at Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.

AVL: van Domselaar; Parker, Patten, Corsie, Turner; Blindkilde-Brown, Staniforth, Nobbs; Salmon, Daly, Leon

TOT: Spencer; James, Bühler, Bartrip, Neville; Ahtinen, Summanen, Clinton; Thomas, Ildhusøy, Naz

One of only two sides yet to open their three-point narrative in the 2023/24 WSL campaign, Aston Villa flew out of the home dressing room at the Poundland Bescot Stadium as Adriana Leon drew a clumsy foul from Tottenham defender Eveliina Summanen to earn the hosts a penalty with only five minutes on the matchday clock. Already on the scoresheet for the season after opening her goalscoring account against Manchester United on the opening day, last season’s Golden Boot winner Rachel Daly confidently stepped up to the spot to make no mistake from 12 yards to hand the hosts the lead.

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Already in the ascendancy following Daly’s fifth-minute opener, the Villains determinedly continued to pursue an extension of their early advantage as the recalled Ebony Salmon saw her effort well-saved by visiting goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer. However, Tottenham would manufacture an exquisite equalising goal shortly after the half-hour mark, as Martha Thomas instinctively intercepted Rachel Corsie’s attempted back-pass to Daphne van Domselaar before getting her head up to majestically lop the ball over the top of the stranded Villa goalkeeper.

Unbelievably, the visitors would turn the game on its head with the very last kick of the first half, as Ashleigh Neville made her way up from the back, authoritatively rising above Lucy Parker to head Jessica Naz’s dangerous delivery into the far corner.

On course to temporarily go top of the Barclays Women’s Super League standings, at least until Leicester City’s match against Leicester City this evening, Tottenham seemingly put the game to bed in the 64th minute. Continuing her rich vein of form in front of goal this season, Thomas sublimely doubled her tally for the afternoon, ruthlessly firing the ball through a crowded penalty area – past an unsighted van Domselaar – into the corner of the net.

Determined to take home the match ball, Thomas sensationally completed her hat-trick eight minutes later, as the Scotland international brilliantly took on Olga Ahtinen’s defence-splitting pass before unleashing a sublimely-struck strike into the back of the net. 

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Things could have been even worse for Carla Ward’s clearly overwhelmed, and arguably confidence-starved outfit, as only a visibly-stunning acrobatic save from van Domselaar prevented Summanen’s free-kick from making it five for the visitors. However, there would be somewhat of a late celebration from the departed home contingent, as Parker headed home her first-ever goal for Villa from close range after Corsie’s initial effort had been palmed back into the defender’s path by Spencer.

Tottenham’s convincing victory from one goal down after only five minutes registers Robert Vilahamn’s side’s third win from four matches in the Barclays Women’s Super League season, ahead of this month’s two-week international break. Meanwhile, Aston Villa still remain without a point in the 2023-24 WSL campaign.