Aston Villa received a brutal wake-up call to the realities of the Women’s Super League with a battering at the hands of Everton.
In their first game at the Banks’ Stadium, Gemma Davies’ side were four goals down at half time thanks to a double from Hayley Raso. Claire Emslie also bagged herself a brace and an assist in Walsall in a match that also saw Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah scored a stunner.
Willie Kirk’s Toffees shot themselves to the top of the WSL with a dominant display against Villa.
They pressed the hosts aggressively from the first minute, forcing Villa goalkeeper Lisa Weiss into a smart save in the first minute. However, it took them 21 minutes to score their first goal. Claire Emslie flashed a ball across Weiss’ goal to give Raso a tap in.
It was 2-0 just three minutes later with Weiss scuffing a pass to give Raso a tap-in for her second. Emslie got her first goal before the half hour mark. Raso was again involved, latching on to a long ball and setting up Izzy Christiansen. The England international played a short ball to Emslie whose beautiful looping effort beating Weiss easily.
Raso finally claimed an assist just before half time, with her cross being met by Valerie Guavin. The French striker’s bullet header really hit home the seismic gap between the Championship and the Super League for Villa, who are yet to pick up a point in their debut top flight season.
The fifth goal came just six minutes into the second half. Grace Finnigan found Boye-Hlorkah with a short pass, with the Norwegian going on a twisting run down the right wing. About half way between the top of the box and the goal line, Boye-Hlorkah sent an effort flying past Weiss. It was likely meant as a cross, but it was still a beautiful goal.
Emslie got her second two minutes later, condemning Villa to a heavy defeat. The FA Cup finalists are looking to break into the top four this season and this statement will do their bid no harm at all.
Big things were expected of Villa upon their promotion from the Championship, but they are yet to deliver on that promise.
Their team is still predominantly the side that got promoted, with six of the eleven players that started the match holding a 19/20 Championship winners medal. These players struggled against Everton, with the new signings looking most at home. This isn’t a comment on the quality of those players, but it is a clear sign that the new signings haven’t gelled with the old guard yet.
With Villa getting off to such a poor start to the season, the players must bond quickly if they intend to stay in the top flight.