Report v Villa

Women's team clinch thrilling late draw at Aston Villa

Aston Villa 1-1 West Ham United
Barclays Women’s Super League, Villa Park, Sunday 28 April 2024, 2pm BST.

West Ham United women’s team left it late to secure a valuable point at Aston Villa that will all but preserve their Barclays Women's Super League (WSL) status for next season.

The hosts' former Hammers forward Alisha Lehmann came off the substitutes' bench to flick in a cross in from Kirsty Hanson and put the hosts ahead with 18 minutes to play, and that looked to be how the game would finish at Villa Park.

However, Shannon Cooke would head home in the fifth minute of added-time to snatch a dramatic draw for Rehanne Skinner's Irons and a deserved share the spoils in the second city.

Manager Skinner had made one change from the side that was well-beaten at Manchester City last weekend, with Emma Snerle replacing Anouk Denton in the starting XI.

Villa meanwhile named five former West Ham United players in their squad, with Rachel Daly, Kenza Dali, Adriana Leon, Maz Pacheco and Lehmann all previously featuring for the Irons in the WSL.

The first chance of the match fell the way of the Hammers, with Jess Ziu picking out Riko Ueki with a flighted ball into the area. The Japanese international took the ball down well, but her effort on goal was a tame one that was easy for Villa goalkeeper Sophia Poor to hold.

It was an even contest in the opening exchanges in the West Midlands, with both sides sounding out ways to get in behind and open the deadlock.

Skinner’s side kept probing, and a marauding Shelina Zadorsky whipped in a ball that Ziu struck towards goal, but a covering Noelle Maritz came across to block her effort. Moments later, Ueki looked to steer a header in, but her effort looped over the crossbar.

Japan star Ueki continued to keep the Villa defence busy as the first half progressed, but she was often isolated and therefore her knockdowns fell to those in Claret and Blue rather than her teammates in White shirts. Likewise, Villa's recently-retired England favourite Daly continued with her clever runs in behind, and on 36 minutes, she forced Mackenzie Arnold into her first save of the afternoon.

In the second half, Hanson continued to create opportunities with her short bursts of pace and power. The winger whipped in a ball on 49 minutes that Daly made great contact with, but she could not steer the effort on goal, and it sailed over.

Another good headed opportunity fell the way of Skinner’s side moments later, but Viviane Asseyi nodded wide after rising highest to meet Snerle’s corner kick.

Arnold had to be alert to deny her former teammate Dali from range, with the French midfielder fizzing a fierce freekick on target that the Hammers captain dealt with well.

However, the home side had seen more and more of the ball as the second half ticked on, and they would eventually force themselves in front. Hanson again found space to deliver a ball in, which substitute Lehmann was able to flick onto the far post and past Arnold into the net.

Having fallen behind with less than 20 minutes to play, the Hammers threw players forward and piled on the pressure late on. Eventually, that pressure paid off as they equalised deep into added-time.

Substitute Cooke climbed highest to head home her first goal for the Club and grab a well deserved point at Villa Park.

Bottom club Bristol City now need to win their final three matches to overhaul the Hammers and send them down, having won just one of their first 19 WSL games.


Aston Villa: Poor, Mayling, Patten, Nobbs, Daly, Dali, Turner, Hanson (Magill 90), Leon (Lehmann 69), Taylor (Salmon 61), Maritz
Subs not used: Gregory, Mullett, Pacheco, Tucker

Goal: Lehmann 72

Booked: Patten, Dali, Turner


West Ham United: Arnold, Smith, Cissoko, Tyisak, Zadorsky (Cooke 81), Ziu (Denton 73), Shimizu, Snerle, Hayashi (Ademiluyi 90+2), Ueki, Asseyi
Subs not used: Walsh (GK), O’Hanlon, Bergman Lundin, Harries

Goal: Cooke 90+5

Booked: Smith


Referee: Emily Heaslip

Attendance: 4,282

Leicester City