Aston Villa Women 0 Man Utd Women 2
Manchester United Women maintained the unbeaten start and 100 per cent away record in the 2020/21 Women's Super League by defeating Aston Villa 2-0 at The Bank's Stadium in Walsall.
Leah Galton's 25th-minute goal gave her team something to build on but it wasn't until just over an hour later that Ella Toone wrapped up the points by lobbing the hosts' goalkeeper Lisa Weiss for an assured finish.
The Reds, who remain top of the WSL for at least another week, have won every game on the road in this league campaign so far, following the previous victories at West Ham, Tottenham and Villa's local rivals Birmingham City.
There was a blow for Casey Stoney's side, however, when Jackie Groenen had to be withdrawn in the fourth minute after suffering a head injury, despite her efforts to continue. Lucy Staniforth came on to replace the Dutch international.
The Reds continued to look dangerous in the early stages with Toone and James seeking the opening goal but Villa stopper Weiss was determined to keep them out.
Villa showed some fight as they registered their first shot on target in the 30th minute as forward Shania Hayles broke free with a driving run towards goal but a combination of a last-ditch tackle from Millie Turner and a save from Mary Earps neutralised the threat.
United had a couple of chances to double the lead before the half-time whistle, Toone couldn’t quite latch onto a looping ball over the defence and a last-minute corner was cleared away by Weiss to Batlle but her cross back into the box was too heavy.
The Reds started the second half strongly; Tobin Heath beautifully controlled the ball inside the box and found Toone with a cut-back but her shot was blocked by bodies of defenders.
Shortly after, Villa came close to drawing level as Emma Follis’s right-footed shot looked destined for the top-left corner, but Earps was equal to it. The Villans' pressure continued as Hayles struck the bar from close range minutes later.
United went down the other end of the pitch and couldn’t have come much closer to increasing the advantage. A short corner was played to James who tried her luck and smashed the underside of the crossbar, with the ball somehow managing to stay out on the rebound.
Villa made their first change in the 57th minute as Follis made way for Diana Silva, and their second 12 minutes later when Chloe Arthur came on to replace Sophie Haywood.
On the hour mark, Heath and Toone linked up again as the USA international produced some trickery to beat her marker on the right-hand side, before playing the ball to Toone who took the shot on and it skimmed wide of the left-hand post.
After that, James made way for Jane Ross and in the 70th minute, a goalmouth scramble saw the substitute strike an effort on goal from the six-yard box, but her effort was blocked and Millie Turner couldn’t quite convert the rebound.
United really moved up a gear with 15 minutes to play, with Heath again on the right-hand side fizzing in a delicious cross that was begging for a touch but it was well defended by Asante.
The Reds remained dominant but at 1-0 there was always that risk of the hosts nicking a point. Thankfully, that threat was eradicated after Toone tried to put Heath through but instead found the ball back at her feet, 25 yards from goal, after Villa keeper Weiss cleared it straight to her.
A quick look up and a cultured lob from Toone completed the 2-0 victory and ensured the WSL leaders brought three more points back up the M6.
Aston Villa: Weiss, Franklin-Fraiture, N’Dow, Asante, Follis (Silva 57), Petzelberger, Siems, Haigh, Haywood (Arthur 67), Ewers (Syme 80), Hayles (Hutton 80).
Substitutes not used: Rogers, Ale, West, Hanssen.
United: Earps, Smith, A. Turner, M. Turner, Batlle, Ladd, Groenen (Staniforth 11), Toone, Heath, Galton, James (Ross 61).
Substitutes not used: Ramsey, McManus, Okvist, Zelem, Fuso.
Goals: Galton 25, Toone 89.