Aston Villa Women once again drew 0-0 with West Ham in the FA Women’s Super League on Sunday afternoon.
Just a few weeks after the reverse fixture, the Villans welcomed their opponents to Villa Park in what had shaped up to be a huge game in the fight for survival.
After they had conceded stoppage time equalizers in their last two fixtures, Marcus Bignot and his side would’ve been determined to ensure the same didn't happen against West Ham.
It was the visitors that started the brighter team, though, as the Hammers pushed forward in the opening stages and won a handful of set pieces.
Six minutes in, the home side produced a well-worked move as Mana Iwabuchi found Stine Larsen, but the forward was beaten for pace by Hawa Cissoko who was first to the ball to clear the danger.
Bignot continued to yell instructions at his players from the sidelines as, minutes later, West Ham had a free kick on the edge of the box that was sent into the side netting.
Things opened up as the first-half went on, Larsen was later played through and was almost one-on-one against Mackenzie Arnold, but the goalkeeper was first to the ball to take any sting out of the forward’s effort.
Iwabuchi’s quick feet won her side a number of free kicks, one of which Hutton sent into the hands of Arnold, who then caught another from Elisha N’Dow moments later.
There was a huge let off for Villa just before half-time as Emily Van Egmond found herself in space in the box and was able to get a shot away, but there wasn’t enough power behind it and Lisa Weiss was able to get down to make the save.
Marisa Ewers warmed up intensely during the break, which saw her come on for Jodie Hutton as the second-half got underway.
The home side started brightly as Iwabuchi played in Shania Hayles who was one-on-one with the keeper, but the forward couldn’t quite connect with the ball and her shot is comfortably saved by Arnold.
Another opportunity for Larsen went begging soon after, as she too found herself in a scoring position, but she was quickly closed down by the West Ham defense and she sent her effort wide of the post.
Iwabuchi was booked on 60 minutes for a challenge on Kate Longhurst; West Ham’s resulting free kick entered a second phase of play before it was flagged offside and Villa were able to make their second change as Freya Gregory replaced Shania Hayles.
Somehow, West Ham weren’t able to find the back of the net as the 80 minute mark approached; there was a scramble in front of goal and a handful of blocked shots before it was eventually cleared by Asmita Ale.
Frustration was mounting for both sides as Kenza Dali sent a shot wide for West Ham, the midfielder was visibly disappointed with her effort.
Iwabuchi was then replaced by Emily Syme with just over 10 minutes left to play.
Moments later, Martha Thomas hit the cross bar and it rebounded back into the box, which led to a clash between the forward and Weiss as they both scrambled for the ball.
Bignot then made a double change with five minutes left to play as Nadine Hanssen and Emma Follis came on for Natalie Haigh and Chloe Arthur.
It was West Ham that produced the better chances in stoppage time as Weiss had to be quick to save an effort from Gilly Flaherty, who picked up a clearance from a corner and attempted to find the back of the net.
A Villa corner became the last kick of the game and despite it being an opportunity to reverse their fortunes of recent games, the home side were unable to make anything of it and it was comfortably defended by the Hammers.
This became Villa’s fourth consecutive draw and despite the positives in an unbeaten run, they’re still in the thick of a relegation battle that is far from decided.
Bristol City lost to Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, but it will be left to final match day as Villa travel to face Arsenal and City face Brighton next weekend.
If Villa were to lose to the Gunners, their safety will be confirmed if Bristol City fail to beat the Seagulls.