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Bristol Academy 0 Notts County 2 (Earps og 73, Clarke 90)
Notts County made it three wins on the trot and moved into mid-table as two late goals earned them the points at Stoke Gifford.
The game seemed to be heading towards stalemate when an own goal from Bristol Academy goalkeeper Mary Earps put the visitors in front and a sublime finish from Jess Clarke late on wrapped up a win that County fully deserved on the night.
It was Academy who had the first opportunity of the game early on, Natalia Pablos Sanchon doing well to fashion a chance for herself as she turned away from Danielle Brogan in the area and her shot came back off the post. Nikki Watts was quickest to the rebound but her effort also bounced against the post before Carly Telford was able to gather.
Sophie Walton fired over at the other end from a lay-off by Fiona O'Sullivan but chances for either side were scarce as much of the play was confined to midfield. County passed the ball around confidently, with Katie Hoyle dictating matters in the centre, but they were finding it hard to pierce the Academy defence at this stage.
Despite County's domination of possession, the greater of the opportunities were going the way of the home side. Natalia produced another sharp attempt on goal with a shot on the turn but Telford was equal to it with a good diving save.
Telford again excelled on the half hour with another fine save after Natalia had met Frankie Brown's cross with a well struck volley which looked destined for the corner of the net.
Much of County's play centred around the good work up front by the impressive O'Sullivan, who held the ball up well. The Republic of Ireland striker had a shot deflected wide and Rachel Corsie was to go even closer with a strike from 25 yards which drifted just over the bar.
The first half ended goalless and the deadlock was almost broken within two minutes of the restart but a well struck shot by Watts was turned over the bar for another fine save from Telford. That proved to be the last big effort from the home side though as the County defence, which has conceded only six league goals this season, tightened up from that point.
Once again the game became a midfield struggle as the two defences dominated but County were starting to get stronger and now looked the likelier of the sides to break through. A warning sign for Academy came as O'Sullivan headed just over from a Hoyle free kick.
With seventeen minutes remaining, County took the lead but it was a moment that Earps will want to forget. Hoyle floated a corner towards the near post but, under little pressure, Earps palmed the ball into her own net.
The Academy goalkeeper was clearly upset at her mistake but County were in the ascendancy and a tactical change proved to be a good move. Clarke was switched to play down the middle and the England striker's pace was now a constant threat to the home defence.
County could well have been awarded a penalty when Clarke appeared to be barged over by Jemma Rose as she chased a long ball and, from a flick on by Aileen Whelan, Clarke was away on goal again but this time she was denied by a superbly timed tackle from Rose.
However as the game went into injury time, Whelan's pass down the right was latched onto by Clarke who held off the attentions of Loren Dykes before curling an unstoppable shot past Earps and into the far top corner to seal victory for her side.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Grace McCatty, Loren Dykes, Jaz Matthews, Jemma Rose, Sophie Ingle, Frankie Brown (sub Laura Del Rio 71mins), Angharad James, Natalia Pablos Sanchon (sub Natasha Harding 59mins), Nikki Watts, Corinne Yorston (sub Georgia Evans 86mins). Subs not used: Alex Windell, Alice Evans, Gabriella Bird.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Laura-Jayne O'Neill, Amy Turner, Katie Hoyle, Rachel Corsie, Danielle Brogan, Jess Clarke, Sophie Walton, Aileen Whelan, Fiona O'Sullivan (sub Dunia Susi 76mins), Desiree Scott. Subs not used: Jules Draycott, Ashleigh Plumptre, Emily Roberts, Caitlin Friend.
(top) Laura-Jayne O'Neill turns away from Corinne Yorston
(middle) Carly Telford gathers as Rachel Corsie shields from Natalia Pablos Sanchon
(bottom) Natalia Pablos Sanchon is surrounded by Danielle Brogan and Desiree Scott
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