Aston Villa manager Carla Ward is aiming to finish in the top six of the WSL this season after her side beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Brisbane Road.

A first-half strike from Adriana Leon opened the scoring before Jordan Nobbs regained the lead for the visitors with a stunning strike into the top right corner from the edge of the box in the 60th minute.

It made Amy James-Turner's header for Spurs near the end of the first half worthless, as Aston Villa controlled the first half and then held out their lead for the final 30 minutes.

Aston Villa had a tough start to the season, losing their opening four matches. However, now they are just three points behind fifth-placed Tottenham. Carla Ward has her eyes on finishing in the top half.

"We said we wanted top six, and, even though those first five games didn’t go our way, in those five games, we actually played some good stuff against [Man] United and Arsenal," she stated.

"Amongst us, we had a belief and it is my job to keep installing belief. We’ve continued to do that and we have our sights very firmly focused on the top six. If we can finish in the top six, I would argue it is a bigger achievement this year than last year. Nobody has finished fifth and then backed it up with a top-six finish."

  • "It was a deserved win"

Aston Villa dictated the middle of the park with their midfield trio, outnumbering Tottenham's Kit Graham and Eveliina Summanen.

Leon's goal in the first half epitomised their performance, even if Barbora Votikova should have saved the Canadian's shot towards the bottom left corner.

Despite going into half-time level, Aston Villa showed composure in the second half — and Ward was impressed with her team.

"I think it was a deserved win. The way we set up to hurt them, hurt them. You could see after 20 minutes them coming to the touchline asking how they dealt with our threats. It was essentially what we wanted," she stated.

"We went into half-time disappointed to concede, but the message at half-time was: 'Excellent, but let’s try and go up another gear'.

"We found spaces because they adapted their press. We did that in the second half and it was a bit of cat and mouse at times. But, over the course of 90 minutes, the way we executed and dug in, I thought we deserved all three points. 

“When they set up in a 4-4-2 and we had a three-man midfield, we knew we’d have an overload. But we had to take advantage of that. The work we’ve done in the week making sure that we had Rachel Corsie splitting the two which allowed the other two a bit of freedom. Jordan Nobbs was our spare player which allowed us to play through her.

"We didn’t do that until the second half, and when we did, we caused more problems. Delighted with the win and the players. They gave everything and I couldn’t have asked much more from them."

Aston Villa nullified the threat of Bethany England, Martha Thomas and - most importantly - Grace Clinton at Brisbane Road. 

The on-loan midfielder from Manchester United has shone under Robert Vilahamn this season at the heart of an energetic Spurs team, yet she is often Spurs' only creative outlet.

Ward knew that pre-match — and they stopped her from causing problems throughout the 90 minutes. 

“She likes to come inside the pitch. While she likes to start on the left, we knew we had to stop the switch. We knew we had to protect central areas, so when she did start to try and come inside, we knew we had a plan for that," Ward told VAVEL. 

"It frustrated her and you could see that. She was asking whether she should stay outside or come in as a three. I think we adapted to look after that. At half-time, we showed them how she was trying to then change to come inside. Sarah [Mayling] did a great job on her. I thought Sarah was outstanding today.

"Clinton is one of the most in-form midfielders in the league right now. Credit to her. I think she’s had a sensational season. We had to pay particular attention to her. We did and the girls have executed it brilliantly."