• By Paul Lagan

Guro was Reiten time as Villa are put to the sword 3-1 in FA Cup



By Paul Lagan at Banks’s Stadium


Aston Villa 1 v Chelsea 3


Chelsea cruised to the 5th round of the FA Cup with a comfortable 3-1 win against Aston Villa at the Banks’s Stadium thanks to two goals from Guro Reiten and a penalty from Pernille Harder. The home side were outclassed by the west Londoners for large swathes of the tie.

But if ever there was a chance of an upset, this was it.

Chelsea were without skipper Magda Eriksson, midfielder Melanie Leupolz with injures, while star striker Sam Kerr and inspirational midfielder Ji were on international duty.

With Chelsea down to the bare bones in terms of players due to international duties, Covid and those injuries, head coach Emma Hayes then had to contend with the loss of Beth England with a calf problem and so she too missed the match.

Russian Alsu Abdullina made her starting debut, not in her regular left-back slot, but as a left midfielder. Reiten was pushed to the unusual, for her, right side of the pitch, and it paid dividends.

Reiten is one of those quiet but immensely effective players that no successful team can do without.

Despite being left-footed and used almost exclusively on that wing, she was press-ganged into operating on the right and she helped herself to a brace of goals for her endeavours.

Pernille penalty saw the Blues safely into then fifth round.

Villa did set about trying to disrupt the west Londoners’ rhythm and hope for a quick breakthrough.

This caused Harder to twice fall into offside positions when she was in a great area to exploit the Villa defence.

A terrible error on 10 minutes, by Anna Patten, allowed Reiten to pounce on a long ball after the centre-back misjudged it’s flight. But the Norway international’s header couldn’t get over the grasp of Hannah Hampton and the chance went begging.

But she made no mistake on 17 minutes when excellent set-up play by Fran Kirby fed the winger, and she turned and slotted home with a fine left-footed curler from just inside the Villa penalty area.

Reiten had another effort four minutes later. Again a quick break involving Kirby and Harder saw Reiten race into the Villa area. But Hampton was quick enough to close her down and block her shot.

The Blues were awarded a penalty on 26 minutes when a fine ball on the left by Abdullina saw Reiten quickest to it. Unfortunately for Villa, she was upended just inside the area.

Referee Abigail Byrne had no hesitation to point to the spot.

Harder tucked the ball home with consummate ease to double the Chelsea lead.

The Blues were totally in control for the rest of the half.

Niamh Charles was introduced for the second half, Harder stayed in the changing room

And it was Chelsea who continued to dominate.

While Villa tried to look comfortable making first-time passes, they were going nowhere quick. On 62 minutes, the tie was effectively over as some dainty footwork by Kirby inside side the Villa penalty area, led her to tap the ball to Reiten, who smacked home a thunderous left-footer, giving Hampton no chance.

Hayes brought on Sophie Ingle for Jonna Andersson and on 70 minutes Lauren James replaced Kirby.

There were a couple of minutes on the pitch for youngsters Aimee Claypole and Emma Thompson as Hayes rested a couple of players ahead of Wednesday crucial League Cup semi-final match at home against Manchester United.

Villa had the last kick of the game, and it was from the penalty spot when Ramona Petzelberger smashed home a consolation goal.

Teams: Aston Villa: Hampton, Mayling, Allen, Asante, Arthur, Petzelberger, Scott, Hayley’s, Littlejohn, Pacheco, Patten

Subs: Rogers, Boye-Hlorkah, Hutton, McLoughlin, Haywood, Blindkilde Brown, Evers, Corsie

Chelsea: Musovic, Nouwen, Bright, Carter, Reiten, Kirby, Fleming, Harder, Spence, Andersson, Abdullina

Subs: Ingle, James, Charles, Cuthbert, Berger, Claypole, Thompson

Referee: Abigail Byrne