Manchester City 2-1 Aston Villa: Hemp heroics see the hosts claim victory over a hopeful Villa side

The opening fixture in Gameweek 9 of the Barclays Women’s Super League saw third-place Manchester City host Carla Ward’s Aston Villa side at the Joie Stadium. The hosts had comfortably defeated Tottenham before the international break, while Villa fell to defeat against Everton.

MCI: Keating; Ouahabi, Greenwood, Kennedy, Aleixandri; Coombs, Hasegawa; Hemp, Roord, Kelly; Shaw

AST: van Domselaar; Pacheco, Turner, Patten, Mayling; Nobbs, Corsie, Staniforth; Dali, Daly, Magill

In what commenced as an even arm wrestle, both sides looked scintillating in attack throughout the fixture’s opening minutes.

An early attempt from an in-form Khadija Shaw was glanced over the crossbar, with the City striker narrowly missing her chance to open the afternoon’s account. But just minutes later, a well-timed volley executed in unbelievable fashion saw Danielle Turner pull the Villains ahead in just the seventh minute of play.

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After opening the scoresheet for Aston Villa, a guttural track back from Turner saw her sliding challenge put an attempt from a relentless City attack out wide and clear of the danger zone.

Feeling the desperation of the deficit, City urged forward. Chloe Kelly’s left-footed effort from outside of the 18 yard-box found the safe hands of Daphne van Domselaar, with the Dutch goalkeeper beginning to be thoroughly tested as another searching effort, this time from Lauren Hemp, floated just wide of her sticks.

Despite the onslaught of sky blue shirts in attack, a well organised Aston Villa side managed to hold on to their visiting advantage heading into the break.

Joie Stadium became a cauldron of heat come the second half, with Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City side immediately asking questions of Aston Villa’s defence. The Villains narrowly avoided an early concession, as a thumping strike from Lauren Hemp flew narrowly over the crossbar.

The persistent knocking on the door of Aston Villa’s defensive line finally saw a breakthrough, as England’s Chloe Kelly streamed down the wing before picking out an unmarked Lauren Hemp who headed home the equaliser for the Cityzens.

As the clock ran, the fixture began to see the development of one way traffic. City’s authoritative control of the tempo began to play host to an Aston Villa side in disarray. Before the Villains were given any moment to organise, the 65th minute played out the scene of an all too familiar Lionesses linkup, as Kelly once again picked out a lunging Hemp at the back post, whose sliding effort netted home her second inside just four minutes.

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The 71st minute seemed as if history were repeating itself, as Kelly skilfully weaved through a broken Aston Villa last line to find the head of Hemp once again, before a desperate effort from van Domselaar saw caution evaded.

Refusing to roll over, Aston Villa pressed on with urgency in face of the deficit. A returning Lucy Parker was given the opportunity to write her name on the scoresheet, as a streaming Ebony Salmon found her feet on the edge of the area. The defender’s strike landed comfortably in the safe hands of Khiara Keating though, despite the desperate calls from an unmarked Rachel Daly.

Despite the urgent efforts of Carla Ward’s side, the Villains were unable to find an equaliser as the final whistle blew signalling the end of the match. As a result of a heroic brace from Lauren Hemp, Manchester City claimed 2-1 victory at home.