Aston Villa 1-2 Man City: Player ratings as Cityzens miss out on WSL title

  • Manchester City ended the WSL season with a 2-1 win away at Aston Villa
  • Win not enough for Gareth Taylor’s side as Chelsea crowned champions
  • Carla Ward’s tenure at Aston Villa ends in defeat
City came up short
City came up short / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

Manchester City fell short on the final day of the Women’s Super League season, despite narrowly beating Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park.

Gareth Taylor’s side needed a miracle to pip Chelsea to this season’s title and that task was made even greater within minutes of kick-off as Emma Hayes’ side scored early on at Manchester United. With every goal that flew beyond Mary Earps at Old Trafford, the number of goals City needed to score increased.

By half-time, despite leading 1-0 at Villa Park, the visitors needed to score a further six and hope Chelsea didn’t add to their tally after the break. But Hayes’ side did what they do best and it ended 6-0 at Old Trafford, while City conceded and needed a late winner as a mere consolation.

How the game unfolded

It was the hosts who flew out the blocks in the first half as they found themselves in promising positions, but City soon found their feet and started to test Anna Leat in the Villa goal. It took until the 21st minute, but Taylor’s side eventually broke the deadlock.

Mary Fowler was in space in the Villa box and she was able to turn and get a shot away. There were no celebrations from the City forward as she grabbed the ball and rushed straight back to the centre circle, knowing they needed to score more if they were to have any chance of clinching the title.

City could have led by more at half-time, but substitute Laura Blindkilde Brown struck the bar and Jess Park had an effort palmed away by Leat. With every passing minute and every missed chance, it seemed it just wouldn’t be City’s day.

Despite some promising moments early in the second half, matters went from bad to worse for the title chasers. Moments after Steph Houghton took to the pitch for her final-ever appearance, Villa put themselves back on level terms.

Alex Greenwood pushed up the pitch and City were left exposed to a counter-attack. Rachel Daly made the run and she was found by Kenza Dali, the Villa forward then calmly finished beyond Khiara Keating.

City were able to get their noses back in front courtesy of a messy goal from Lauren Hemp, but the title was already gone by then.

Aston Villa player ratings (4-3-2-1)

Kenza Dali, Yui Hasegawa
Kenza Dali of Aston Villa Women / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

GK: Anna Leat - 8/10 - A fantastic save to keep out a strike from Park just before half-time. Made another outrageous save at 1-1 to keep her side level. Then a third, and so on. Fantastic goalkeeping performance, on the whole.

RB: Sarah Mayling - 6/10 - A difficult afternoon up against Hemp. The City winger had the better of her more often than not. Subbed pretty early in the second half.

CB: Anna Patten - 6/10 - Needed to be tighter to Fowler for the opening goal as the City forward had time and space to turn and pick her spot.

CB: Danielle Turner - 6/10 - A crucial interception first half to deny Lauren Hemp after some good build-up play from City. Pushed out to left-back second half when Mayling was replaced.

LB: Noelle Maritz - 6/10 - Pretty quiet game from the defender. Was closest to Hemp for City’s second so should have done better to put the forward off.

DM: Jordan Nobbs - 6/10 - Looked to make things happen where she could, but a pretty quiet game on the whole. City were comfortably winners in the midfield battle.

DM: Miri Taylor - 5/10 - A pretty quiet first half as City dominated position. Didn’t really assert herself and was substituted at half-time.

RM: Alisha Lehmann - 5/10 - Some poor decision making in the final third at times when Villa played themselves into some dangerous attacking positions. 

AM: Kenza Dali - 6/10 - Picked the ball up in some dangerous areas and certainly tested the City defence. Got the assist for Daly’s goal.

LM: Kirsty Hanson - 6/10 - Used her pace well down the left in the first half but wasn’t able to make too much of an impact as City dominated possession.

ST: Rachel Daly - 7/10 - Big chance in the first few minutes to put Villa ahead but just missed the target. Was Villa’s main outlet going forward and put them back on level terms in the second half.


SUB: Lucy Parker (45' for Miri Taylor) - 6/10 - Allowed Villa to have a little more control in the second-half.

SUB: Adriana Leon (59' for Alisha Lehmann) - 6/10

SUB: Rachel Corsie (59' for Sarah Mayling) - 6/10

SUB: Freya Gregory (85' for Kirsty Hanson) - N/A

SUB: Maz Pacheco (85' for Danielle Turner) - N/A

Subs not used: Ebony Salmon, Georgia Mullett, Simone Magill, Ruby-Rae Tucker


Carla Ward - 7/10 - Final game for Villa and they certainly frustrated a City team in desperate need of goals. Used her substitutes well and her side were always in it, even after falling behind a second time.

Manchester City player ratings (4-3-3)

Alex Greenwood
Alex Greenwood of Manchester City / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

GK: Khiara Keating - 6/10 - Forced into a handful of saves and did her job effectively. Not a lot she could've done to help her side score.

RB: Kerstin Casparij - 7/10 - Crucial defending early in the second half to break up a dangerous Villa counter attack. Good combinations with Hemp in the second half but they resulted in mere half-chances.

CB: Alex Greenwood - 7/10 - Won her battles and kept City as tight as could possibly be as her side pushed forward in the first half. Miscommunication in the second for Villa’s equaliser as she pushed too far up and left the rest of the back line exposed.

CB: Laia Aleixandri - 6/10 - Clever with possession and did her defensive duties well. Second half was more challenging as the entire team pushed forward, leaving more space for Villa to attack on the break.

LB: Alanna Kennedy - 6/10 - Made a poor headed clearance that fell kindly for Dali and she only just about managed to recover and prevent a goal. Did well enough until she came off.

DM: Yui Hasegawa - 7/10 - So calm and composed in possession. There to mop everything up and set her side on the attack but her control of the midfield wasn't enough to propel her side to a big enough victory.

CM: Laura Coombs - N/A - A very short afternoon as she picked up an injury early in the first half and had to be replaced.

CM: Jess Park - 7/10 - Very nearly made it two just before the break but denied by a fantastic save. Got herself in some fantastic positions and kept the ball well, but that clinical edge wasn’t quite there.

RW: Chloe Kelly - 6/10 - Nowhere near as effective as she needed to be in the first half. A few overhit passes and struggled to really put a mark on the game.

ST: Mary Fowler - 7/10 - Scored the crucial first goal for City but there was no time to celebrate as she picked the ball up and rushed straight back to the centre circle. A few chances second half but wasn't clinical enough.

LW: Lauren Hemp - 7/10 - Should’ve made it two on the half hour mark but her effort was tame and eventually cleared. Had the better of Mayling on more than one occasion. Finally got the goal to make it 2-1, but any hopes of winning the title were long gone by then.


SUB: Laura Blindkilde Brown (14' for Laura Coombs) - 7/10 - Some outstanding play in midfield to set Jess Park free but unfortunate not to see it result in a goal. Unfortunate not to score before the break as her effort struck the bar.

SUB: Steph Houghton (66' for Alanna Kennedy) - 6/10

SUB: Leila Ouahabi (66' for Kerstin Casparij) - 6/10

SUB: Demi Stokes (89' for Chloe Kelly) - N/A

Subs not used: Katie Startup (GK), Filippa Angeldahl, Esme Morgan, Poppy Pritchard, Ruby Mace


Gareth Taylor - 6/10 - Not a lot he could’ve done to counteract poor finishing. The forward line kept interchanging but it just wasn’t to be. Missed his big hitters when it mattered most.

Player of the match - Anna Leat (Aston Villa)