Report: Aston Villa 1 United Women 2

Sunday 01 October 2023 15:10

Rachel Williams's injury-time header clinched all three points for Manchester United Women at Villa Park on Sunday, as the Reds came from behind to win on the opening weekend of the 2023/24 Women's Super League season.

Manager Marc Skinner awarded first starts to summer signings Geyse and Gabby George for the curtain-raiser, but it was super sub Williams who bagged the winning goal.

After a first half which saw chances from both sides, it took until nearly 80 minutes to get a goal at Villa Park.

Rachel Daly slotted the ball past Mary Earps to score for the hosts, moments after former Red Kirsty Hanson had been dismissed for a dangerous challenge, before Lucia Garcia levelled the score for United.

It looked like the sides were set to share the points but Nikita Parris found Williams in the box and she headed it in to clinch the victory for the Reds..


An open-ended affair saw a number of yellow cards and plenty of chances for each side but it remained goalless at the break.

United started strongly, with Leah Galton crossing a superb ball into the box but it was easily saved by goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar.

Geyse had an impressive start to her first game, with chances coming to her from Ella Toone and Garcia.

Her best chance of the half came from a Millie Turner clearance which found our Brazilian international onside. Her resulting shot across goal forced an impressive save out of the Villa goalkeeper.

A poor clearance from Hannah Blundell saw the ball fall to Lucy Staniforth, but her long-range effort provided an easy save for Mary Earps.

After Rachel Corsie brought down Geyse on the right-hand side of the pitch, Hannah Blundell curled the free-kick into the box which found Millie Turner but her header was straight into the hands of the Villa goalkeeper.

With minutes left of the first half, Villa had their best chance of the half when Lehmann was picked out on her own at the edge of the area. Despite having time on the ball, the Swiss international could not get the shot on target and it went screaming over Earps’s net.

United ended the half positively with another solid attack; Geyse held the ball up well before crossing a beautiful low ball into the area but Hayley Ladd couldn’t get a telling connection.


The start of the second half took a little while for both teams get back settled into at Villa Park but it was Toone who had the best chance early on when she skipped past a defender before forcing a save from Van Domselaar.

After a stoppage for an injury to Ebony Salmon, Daly came close once again with the England player hitting the top of the crossbar with an attempt from outside the box.

This was shortly followed by a corner for Villa, but Corsie’s header was directed straight into the hands of Earps.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, the hosts were reduced to 10 after a late challenge from Kirsty Hanson on Hayley Ladd.

The resulting free-kick saw substitute Rachel Williams have an attempt but the handball shouts were waved away by the referee.

Rachel Williams scored the winning goal in injury-time.

Despite United’s chances, and being a player to the good, it was Villa who took the lead on 77 minutes through Rachel Daly.

Former Red Adriana Leon collected the ball out wide to set up Daley in the middle of the box. After taking a touch, she slotted the ball past Earps to give her side the advantage.

The Reds refused to give up and were straight back down the other end. After the ball bobbled around in the area, it finally fell to Garcia, who was not going to miss from short range.

With just minutes left of the normal time, the Reds came close to grabbing a winner but Zelem’s curling shot from outside the area was impressively saved by Van Domselaar.

Time was running out for Skinner's side, but it was Williams once again who proved to be the difference for the Reds, rising high before directing her header into the back of the net, following a looping cross from Parris.

Jubilant celebrations followed, as United started the new WSL campaign with an important three points on the road.


Aston Villa XI: Van Domselaar, Mayling, Patten, Staniforth, Corsie, Lehmann (Leon 65), Daly, Turner, Parker (Nobbs 95), Blindkilde Brown (Salmon 45), Hanson.

Unused substitutes: McLoughlin, Mullett, Leat, Magill, Pacheco.

Goal: Daly 76 

Red card: Hanson 75


United XI: Earps; Blundell, Turner, Le Tissier, George; Ladd (Miyazawa 80), Zelem (c); Garcia, Toone, Galton (Parris 70), Geyse (Willams 65).

Unused substitutes: Tullis-Joyce, Guerrero, Riviere, Evans, Naalsund, Rabjohn.

Goals: Garcia 79, Williams 92