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Yeovil Town 1 (Tewkesbury 10) Aston Villa 1 (Baptiste 46)
Yeovil Town and Aston Villa shared the points in a classic 'game of two halves' at Sherborne Town FC on Saturday afternoon.
Dominant and producing an excellent brand of passing football in the first half, Yeovil were pegged back by a dynamic Villa team who controlled the second period, having equalised one minute after the break.
Yeovil took the lead in the tenth minute through Jemma Tewkesbury who hit a fine controlled volley from the left of goal after a headed clearance. Laura Bray set up the next chance with a determined run up the left, beating two tackles before playing in Tewkesbury, whose shot was well held by Caitlin Leach. The young Villa keeper made another fine save to tip a drive from Jade Kirby round the post.
Helen Bleazard was providing dangerous corners from the right in particular and from one Natalie Haigh sent in a header which flew away to safety off the angle of post and bar on 24 minutes.
Another flowing move saw Bray set up Katie Cook but Leach's good save was made irrelevant by an offside flag. Nothing had been seen of Villa in attack to this point and Tewkesbury was the next to threaten, forcing a desperate Jade Richards headed clearance just over her own bar on 36 minutes.
Finally Villa had an effort on goal on 42 minutes, Alicia Robinson shooting wide then Natasha Baptiste had another shot as Villa finished the half a little better.
Perhaps those shots were a warning as the visitors were level within the first minute of the second half. Baptiste won a challenge on the edge of the area and slotted the ball past Rachel Simkin from ten yards.
Suddenly the whole Villa team were quicker, sharper and stronger in the tackle and pressed the home team back. Baptiste, dropping deep to run at the defence, was a constant threat and Sherry McCue, Olivia Fergusson and Sarah Mayling gained a grip on midfield.
Richards went very close with a header from a corner, Baptiste fired a 25 yard effort inches over and had another effort well saved by Simkin on the hour.
A flurry of substitutions brought little change in the pattern of play, Villa driving forward to test a resolute and hard pressed Yeovil defence. Unable to exert any real pressure on the Villa defence, the hosts were grateful to Simkin for two further saves, from a McCue drive on 73 minutes and Baptiste three minutes later.
In the end, both teams had battled hard on a warm day and deserved a share of the spoils. The Glovers were fluent and inventive in a fine first half but failed to capitalise on their superiority. They may well have felt the effects of their hard fought draw away at Bristol Academy less than two days previously in the later stages, but that would underestimate a determined and strong comeback from the Midlands team.
Yeovil Town: Rachel Simkin, Helen Bleazard, Jade Kirby, Katie Sherwood (sub Stacey Pearson 79mins), Rachael Edwards, Natalie Haigh, Laura Bray (sub Emma Brazell 79mins), Jade Lorton-Radburn, Katie Cook, Paige Stewart, Jemma Tewkesbury (sub Polly Wardle 72mins).
Aston Villa: Caitlin Leach, Hayley Crackle, Lauren Walker, Sherry McCue, Maisie Baker, Jade Richards, Sarah Mayling, Katy Moran, Natasha Baptiste (sub Carly Davies 87mins), Alicia Robinson (sub Chloe Jones 79mins), Olivia Fergusson (sub Maddy Cusack 69mins).
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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