Albion slipped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa in Sunday’s WSL action at The People’s Pension Stadium.
There was no lack of effort from the hosts but they lacked a cutting edge up front.
Villa had already hit the woodwork twice when Anita Asante put them in front in the 56th minute and although Albion had plenty of possession as they went for an equaliser they rarely threatened, apart from a stoppage time volley by substitute Emily Simpkins which was tipped over.
The visitors always threatened on the break and scored their second in the dying moments through Ramona Petzelberger.
With head coach Hope Powell and her assistant Amy Merricks self-isolating after a positive Covid-19 test in the backroom staff Perry Northeast, the regional talent centre’s technical director, took charge of Albion.
Kayleigh Green, who picked up two yellow cards in the 2-2 draw with Everton last month, missed out through suspension so Kirsty Barton came into defence with Maya Le Tissier pushed further forward. Rebekah Stott and Victoria Williams missed out through injury.
In their first game for three weeks Albion struggled to create clear chances in a first half littered with free kicks and stoppages.
Villa were well organised and hard to break down and, on the counter, they carried a threat and could have gone in front.
Megan Walsh raced out of goal to block Jodie Hutton’s shot after Shania Hayles was allowed too much space to create the chance. And Villa went even closer in stoppage time when Stine Larsen’s right-footed shot came back off the corner of post and crossbar.
Albion had another let off 11 minutes into the second half when Walsh made a great save to push Larsen’s glancing header onto the post, but the visitors were ahead two minutes later.
The hosts had just had their first effort on target – a header by Guem-Min Lee straight at goalkeeper Lisa Weiss – when Villa broke and after Larsen’s shot was blocked, Anita Asante pounced on the loose ball and found the roof of the net. In terms of chances created, it was no more than they deserved.
Rianna Jarrett came on for Lee and Emily Simpkins replaced Kirsty Barton and Albion pushed more players forward in search of an equaliser.
Jarrett found Denise O’Sullivan in the 76th minute in a good position but she couldn’t keep her shot on target then four minutes from time Megan Connolly cut inside but her low effort was saved by Weiss.
The Villa keeper produced an outstanding tip-over to keep out Simpkins’ shot from the edge of the box in stoppage time but Villa sealed victory a few moments later when Petzelberger was put through and her lob dropped over Walsh and into the net.
Albion: Walsh, Barton (Simpkins 65), Bowman, Kerkdijk, Gibbons, Le Tissier, Whelan, Connolly (Heroum 89), O’Sullivan, Kaagman, Guem-Min Lee (Jarrett 60).
Subs not used: Stott, Brazil, Williams, Fiskerstrand, Nokuthula, Bance.