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Aston Villa 1 (Baptiste 78) Yeovil Town 1 (Wiltshire 59)
Aston Villa produced a courageous performance to draw 1-1 with Yeovil Town.
After a 6-1 mauling in midweek at Doncaster Belles, boss Ron Mellor and head coach Joe Hunt needed a response and they certainly got it in a game high on incident.
Dani Petrovic, not aware at this point of the drama which was to follow for her later in the afternoon, had the first opportunity, heading against the bar after a fine corner on six minutes. From the resulting corner, Elisha N'Dow had the ball in the net but the referee spotted an infringement for pushing.
Lauren Walker, on the left wing, fired fractionally wide on 12 minutes after a terrific lay off from forward Katie Wilkinson. N'Dow tried her luck from 30 yards on 18 minutes but Rachel Simkin caught it comfortably.
Katie Cook miskicked when well placed on 21 minutes for the visitors after a good cross from Sarah Wiltshire down the right and a moment later it was Wiltshire herself who missed a good chance, firing wide from a Helen Bleazard cross from the left.
Sherry McCue was in the book for the first time on the half hour mark for angrily throwing the ball at Jade Lorton-Radburn. What followed was a lengthy stoppage at the end of the half as Natalie Haigh received treatment near the claret and blue goal after falling awkwardly following a tackle on Emma Follis. Before the end of the opening 45 minutes, though, Villa could have taken the lead, Wilkinson storming her way through the defence before firing into the side netting.
Natalie Courtney produced a wondrous tip over on 50 minutes after a wickedly hit shot from Bleazard down the left channel. Two minutes later, N'Dow - growing in confidence in her new central role - blasted marginally wide from 35 yards out. Walker led claims for a penalty for the home side on 58 minutes after being toppled as she charged through on goal - but the referee waved away protests.
Yeovil opened the scoring on 60 minutes following a fine finish from Wiltshire, who looked lively throughout the engaging contest.
Mellor and Hunt responded moments later with an attacking sub - Baptiste coming on, with Wilkinson dropping back into the No 10 role after previously playing as a point striker. However, there wasn't an immediate response as Yeovil hit the bar through Bleazard on 64 minutes.
Charlotte Haynes replaced Simkin in goal for the visitors on 72 minutes and only minutes later Villa were level. Natasha Baptiste showed her pace, power and finishing class on 76 minutes to latch on to Wilkinson's fine pass through the middle.
At this point, there only looked one winner and they were playing in claret and blue. Wilkinson fired just over from outside the box on 81 minutes as the hosts piled on the pressure. But it became an uphill challenge for them on 82 minutes when McCue, warned moments earlier of a potential red card, was dismissed after another bookable offence.
The severity of the battle became even more severe when skipper Petrovic, a warrior in the back line, was forced to deputise in goal for the final few minutes after Courtney was led off looking groggy. Despite several high balls looped into the box which Petrovic dealt with, the hosts could actually have won it in the closing stages but Baptiste fired agonisingly wide.
Aston Villa: Natalie Courtney (sub Carly Davies 90mins), Hayley Crackle, Maisie Baker, Sherry McCue, Dani Petrovic, Jade Richards, Emma Follis, Elisha N'Dow, Katie Wilkinson, Alicia Robinson (Natasha Baptiste 63mins), Lauren Walker (sub Sarah Mayling 70mins). Subs not used: Chloe Jones, Olivia Fergusson, Katy Moran.
Yeovil Town: Rachel Simkin (sub Charlotte Haynes 72mins), Helen Bleazard, Nicola Cousins, Paige Stewart, Rachael Edwards, Natalie Haigh (sub Katie Sherwood 44mins), Ellie Curson, Jade Lorton-Radburn, Katie Cook (sub Laura Bray 60mins), Sarah Wiltshire, Stacey Pearson. Subs not used: Kirsty Whitton, Jemma Tewkesbury.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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