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London Bees 0 Aston Villa 1 (Fergusson 47)
London Bees were narrowly defeated by Aston Villa at The Hive on Sunday, going down 1-0 to a disputed second half goal from Olivia Fergusson.
However, there can be no doubt that the home side deserved much more from the game having created numerous chances in both halves and seeing a Sydney Hinchcliffe shot hit the underside of the crossbar in the closing minutes.
The Bees started the game brightly and had a great chance to open the scoring with less than a minute on the clock as Lucy Loomes raced onto a long ball forward, but her near post shot from a narrow angle was saved by the goalkeeper.
Loomes' pace was a constant thorn in the side of the Villa defence and it gave the Bees an added threat as they built on the improvements made in the first half against Reading last weekend with assured spells in possession and discipline in defence.
On 24 minutes, Anneka Nuttall outmuscled Chloe Jones to sprint into the box but her cross was cleared for a corner. Billie Brooks was first to the ball from the resulting corner but despite having numerous players in the box the ball just would not fall for the Bees to have a shot at goal. Loomes went close once again four minutes later as she beat the defence to a long ball over the top, but after going around the goalkeeper found the angle too right as the ball went out for a goal kick.
Villa were creating chances of their own but the Bees' defence was standing firm. Samantha Chappell kept them at bay with two excellent recovery tackles in quick succession, the first to intercept the ball from the toes of Maddy Cusack after half an hour and the second to block a run on goal by Fergusson eight minutes later.
The visitors went ever closer just a minute before half time as Katy Moran was played through on goal but goalkeeper Sophie Harris raced out quickly to produce a point blank save on the edge of the box.
The Bees made a substitution at half time with Rebecca Anderson coming on for Amy Cooper as they looked to take control of a game that was hanging in the balance.
However, it was Villa who took the lead just two minutes into the second half when Olivia Fergusson was played through by Maddy Cusack. There was more than a hint of suspicion that she had been in an offside position, with the midfielder even stopping to look at the assistant referee before going on to finish into bottom corner.
The goal halted the Bees' momentum from the first half, with Villa threatening to extend their lead. A last ditch challenge from Aoife Hurley on 55 minutes stopped Katie Wilkinson from going through one-on-one before the same player produced a dangerous cross from the right two minutes later that flashed across the face of goal.
There was a controversial moment on 70 minutes when Wilkinson received the ball in the box in what appeared to be an offside position but once again the flag stayed down. The striker then appeared to be pushed over but the referee was unmoved despite loud appeals for a penalty from the away dugout.
As the minutes ticked away, the Bees pushed forward relentlessly in search of an equaliser. On 75 minutes, Samantha Chappell raced past three defenders down the right. Her cross looked destined for substitute Sydney Hinchcliffe but Maisie Baker intercepted the ball just in time. The ball then fell to Amber Gaylor who took a touch before unleashing a shot towards the top right corner with Natalie Courtney somehow managed to tip over the bar.
The home side came even closer with just two minutes remaining. Paula Howells broke down the left before cutting inside and slipping through Hinchcliffe, who curled a right foot shot over the goalkeeper which looked destined for the net before bouncing back off the underside of the bar.
London Bees: Sophie Harris, Paula Howells, Samantha Chappell, Aoife Hurley, Billie Brooks, Taylor O'Leary, Amy Cooper (sub Rebecca Anderson 45mins), Lucy Loomes (sub Sydney Hinchcliffe 72mins), Anneka Nuttall, Dawn Mallett (sub Danielle Scanlon 81mins), Amber Gaylor. Subs not used: Cherie Rowlands, Emma Davies, Charlotte Herson, Hannah Samuels.
Aston Villa: Natalie Courtney, Chloe Jones, Maisie Baker, Katy Moran, Dani Petrovic, Jade Richards, Maddy Cusack, Katie Wilkinson (sub Natasha Baptiste 77mins), Carly Davies, Sarah Mayling (sub Elisha N'Dow 83mins), Olivia Fergusson (sub Emma Follis 60mins). Subs not used: Chloe Beattie, Chloe Harper, Beth Merrick.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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