Tottenham Hotspur boss Robert Vilahamn made nine changes to the side that were held to a 1-1 draw at Leicester City on Sunday, with Ria Percival and Jess Naz the only remaining starters from Sunday’s 1-1 draw. His opposite number, Lauren Smith, made wholesale changes too – with Brooke Aspin, Megan Connolly and Carrie Jones the only remaining starters from Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Everton.
TOT: Votíková; Ale, Zadorsky, Turner, Pearse; Percival, Petzelberger, Graham; Zhang, Naz, Ayane
BCI: Haaland; Struck, Mustaki, Connolly, Aspin, Ward; Bull, Woolley, Jones; Hayles, Syme
On a chilly and fresh Wednesday evening, Bristol City flew out the blocks with a chance in the opening seconds – as Shania Hayles latched onto a loose ball and fired the shot into the side netting.
The Robins were in the ascendency for large portions of the opening quarter, stifling any Spurs threat and creating a few openings of their own, most notably being when Emily Syme’s effort seemed to strike the hand of Spurs defender Amy Turner, but referee Sunny Singh Gill was unmoved by the visitors’ protests.
Spurs themselves were awarded a penalty after 17 minutes, when Rosella Ayane burst in behind the visitors’ backline following a superb Shelina Zadorsky through ball and was hauled down by Brooke Aspin – with the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Kit Graham stepped up and despite Robins ‘keeper Benedict Haaland getting a hand to her effort, the ball squirmed away from the shotstopper and nestled into the corner of the net to give Spurs the lead. It was her second goal of the season, both coming in as many Conti Cup games.Embed from Getty Images
Aspin certainly made up for her error soon after the penalty, executing a perfect challenge to nick the ball away from Jess Naz as the latter looked to be through on goal with only the keeper to beat.
A calamitous moment for Bristol City came in the 26th minute, when Haaland was pressed into a mistake by Jess Naz, with Rosella Ayane rolling the ball into an open net from the right hand side of the penalty area to give Spurs valuable breathing space.
The hosts’ tails were up and they almost had a third immediately afterwards, when Zhang Linyan purposefully drove through midfield, riding three challenges before her low effort was put straight at the Robins‘ goalkeeper.
Ria Percival then became the first name in the referee’s notebook after a cynical foul on Megan Connolly, much to the home fans dismay.
Carrie Jones then sniffed out a chance to halve the deficit before the break, with the Robins’ star latching onto a loose clearance from Barbra Votikova, but the effort dipped just the wrong side of the crossbar.
Aspin was then withdrawn before half time with Naomi Layzell coming on in her place – and Spurs breached the new look Robins defence again just before the break, with Jess Naz breaking through on goal and lifting her effort over the onrushing Haaland. Unfortunately for the home side, it rose over the crossbar in the last action of the half.
The Robins rolled the dice twice at half time, bringing on Manon Pearce for her Bristol City debut, and Tianna Teisar in place of Carrie Jones and Shania Hayles. The visitors once again had the first chance of the half, with Mari Ward cutting in from the left flank and seeing her curling effort held well by Votikova in the Spurs goal.
Ramona Petzelberger was then on the end of a very robust challenge which the referee saw nothing wrong with, much to the dismay of most inside Brisbane Road – but thankfully for Spurs, their mumber 11 was back up and running moments later.
Spurs went about putting the tie to bed just past the hour mark, with Kit Graham’s low and fierce drive kept out by Haaland in the Bristol City goal. From the resulting corner, Neville’s whipped, curling cross-shot evaded everyone and dipped wide of Haaland’s right hand post.
Spurs did put the tie to bed in the 71st minute though, with Ayane picking up her second goal of the game as she cooly slotted past Haaland in goal after being played through by Ramona Petzelberger.Embed from Getty Images
The hosts nearly added a spectacular fourth, with Graham’s speculative effort being spilt by Haaland but cleared away at the second attempt. Both sides continued to battle away and fought out the last ten minutes plus added time to bring this latest chapter of Conti Cup action to a close.
This results lifts Spurs to two wins from two in the Conti Cup this season, seeing them climb top of the group with six points, two above second placed Southampton, who host Arsenal tomorrow evening in Group D.
In terms of what’s up next on the agenda, Spurs travel north to face a Manchester City side, buoyed by their derby win at Old Trafford last weekend. Bristol City will welcome another Manchester based side, hosting United at Ashton Gate in front of the BBC cameras.