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Aston Villa 3 (Jones 17, Richards 33, Follis 46) Reading FC Women 0
Aston Villa secured an emphatic win over high flying Reading in front of their highest Super League attendance of the season at Sutton Coldfield Town.
First half goals from defenders Chloe Jones and Jade Richards gave the hosts a comfortable lead and Emma Follis' cool strike after the break put the icing on the cake and ended the visitors impressive 12-match unbeaten run.
Villa certainly entertained on an afternoon where the claret and blues hosted their family funday - spreading the ball with confidence and creating a number of chances.
In a tense opening, both sides looked fearful of conceding early on. Just like at Millwall seven days ago, Katie Wilkinson and Follis linked up well and looked to be Ron Mellor's side's main goal threat and it was Follis who played a big part in Villa's opener.
They took the lead on 17 minutes courtesy of left back Jones, who bundled home Follis' left wing corner.
After her 23 goals in all competitions, all eyes were on the league's top scorer Fran Kirby going into the game. Unsurprisingly, she posed a threat with her through balls and clever runs but the Villa backline were equal to it. When called upon, the likes of skipper Sherry McCue and Katie Moran tracked back, working tirelessly for their team.
Set pieces continued to unnerve the visitors and Villa doubled their lead through this very method.
Richards - outstanding in defence all afternoon - latched on to a long free kick from midway in the Reading half, her header crashed off the bar but she reacted quickest and tapped home the rebound.
As expected, the Royals responded well and Kirby's curling strike just shy of half time stung the hands of Villa goalkeeper Caitlin Leach who pushed the shot over the bar.
Clearly determined to kick-off the second period with a bang, the Royals were out early and made three substitutions. Their plans were soon scuppered though as Follis netted almost straight from the restart after controlling McCue's perfect pass and placing the ball past former Villa stopper Nicky Davies in the Royals goal.
Just shy of the hour mark, Reading's afternoon went from bad to worse as their captain Kirsty McGee was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Maddy Cusack.
Villa manager Mellor brought on Sarah Mayling and she made an immediate impact - her shot from an acute angle was held by Davies. With 20 minutes remaining, Hayley Crackle was agonisingly close to adding a fourth in spectacular fashion - her effort crashed off the bar and the Berkshire outfit were able to clear to safety.
After a commanding display throughout the 90 minutes, Maisie Baker was inches away from grabbing a late goal but a combination of former Arsenal defender Molly Bartrip and Davies somehow managed to clear.
Reading almost grabbed a consolation at the end when Laura Walkley's shot was spilled by Leach but the stopper was able to gather at the second attempt to ensure a clean sheet and three points for the claret and blues.
Aston Villa: Caitlin Leach, Hayley Crackle, Chloe Jones, Sherry McCue, Maisie Baker, Jade Richards, Emma Follis, Katy Moran (sub Elisha N'Dow 77mins), Katie Wilkinson (sub Carly Davies 79mins), Maddy Cusack, Olivia Fergusson (sub Sarah Mayling 60mins). Subs not used: Lauren Walker.
Reading FC Women: Nicola Davies, Harriet Scott, Shelly Cox, Georgina Giddings (sub Ashleigh Goddard 45mins), Molly Bartrip, Kirsty McGee, Cheryl Williams (sub Lois Roche 45mins), Bonnie Horwood, Lauren Bruton, Bianca Bragg (sub Laura May Walkley 45mins), Francesca Kirby. Subs not used: Leigh Nicol, Melissa Fletcher.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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