Aston Villa and West Ham share goalless draw in basement battle
- Credit: PA
West Ham squandered a host of chances but have one foot in Barclays FA Women’s Super League safety after a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa.
Olli Harder’s side weren’t punished for profligacy that saw Emily van Egmond and Martha Thomas hit the woodwork.
The Hammers moved three points clear of bottom side Bristol City with one game left, but Villa themselves are not safe yet, as they are a point further back.
West Ham had a great chance to take an early lead when Kenza Dali's corner was nodded back across by captain Gilly Flaherty, only for Grace Fisk to head narrowly wide.
The first opening for Villa came from Chloe Arthur's ball over the top, with Stine Larsen forcing Hammers goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold into making a good block.
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The visitors had the best of the first half, but couldn't force a breakthrough, with Villa 'keeper Lisa Weiss holding on to a low shot by Emily van Egmond.
Shania Hayles should have given the hosts the lead a minute after the restart after being put through by Mana Iwabuchi, but she shot tamely at Arnold, who blocked the rebound as well.
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The chances kept coming for West Ham, with wing-back Cecile Kvamme firing into the side netting from a tight angle.
It just would not go in for the visitors, with Martha Thomas striking a rising effort against the bar with 11 minutes to go.
The woodwork was stuck again in stoppage time, as van Egmond struck the bar from a difficult angle, but those misses do not look like proving costly.
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Aston Villa interim manager Marcus Bignot said: “We’ve gone four games unbeaten with young players who have never experienced this before and have produced the performances they've put in.
“I don't think anybody would argue against us if were talking now about getting eight points from these four games.
It wasn't to be, but let's hope the four we've got so far, with the opportunity for more next Sunday, will be enough.
“Shania [Hayles] is a great finisher and we've worked really hard this week on getting into key areas.
“I was really disappointed for her because I know all the effort she puts in.
“Our season won't be defined by that moment, so I was delighted with her performance - she's a key player for us and it was just a moment we never capitalised on.
“We've had that in previous games, but let's focus on how well we have performed in these four games.”
West Ham United head coach Olli Harder said: “It's sort of been the tale of our season.
“We had a couple of moments where we had our goalkeeper come up big, but other than that it was a relatively good performance from us.
“We wanted more, but obviously the point is pretty massive and we'll take that - it's another small step.
“Unfortunately for us, the goals either all come at once or they don't come at all - I think that's the third 0-0 we've had in the last four games, but that's how it goes.
“We're really pleased with the energy and the intensity and the quality that we've shown and it was a pretty good performance from us that just missed the icing on the cake.
“Every game matters, nothing is done yet and this was another small step, again towards survival, which obviously was the goal when I arrived here; to make sure the team stays in the league.”
Aston Villa (3-5-2): Lisa Weiss, Natalie Haigh, Elisha N'Dow, Anita Asante, Asmite Ale, Mana Iwabuchi, Chloe Arthur, Olivia McLaughlin, Jodie Hutton, Stine Larsen, Shania Hayles
Substitutes: Marisa Ewers for Hutton 45, Freya Gregory for Hayles 65, Emily Syme for Iwabuchi 79, Nadine Hanssen for Haigh 86, Emma Follis for Arthur 86
Substitutes not used: Sian Rogers, Ramona Petzelberger, Amy West, Caroline Siems
West Ham United (5-3-2): Mackenzie Arnold, Cecile Kvamme, Gilly Flaherty, Grace Fisk, Hawa Cissoko, Maz Pacheco, Emily van Egmond, Kate Longhurst, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Kenza Dali, Martha Thomas
Substitutes: Laura Vetterlein for Brynjarsdottir 90+2
Substitutes not used: Nor Mustafa, Courtney Brosnan, Maisy Barker, Anouk Denton
Referee: Rebecca Welch