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Aston Villa 4 (Follis 17, Richards 19, Jones 72, Wilkinson 73) London Bees 1 (Gaylor 57)
Aston Villa bounced back from their loss at Durham Women with an emphatic victory and performance against London Bees.
First half goals from Emma Follis and Jade Richards as well as a Chloe Jones header and penalty from Katie Wilkinson either side of Amber Gaylor's close range shot sealed a comfortable win against the league's basement side.
The Northern Ireland Under-15s were in town for this one and, judging by their reaction to the claret and blue display, they certainly enjoyed what they saw.
The absence of Sherry McCue meant a reshuffle with Chloe Jones taking on the regular skipper's role - slotting into central midfield and also wearing the armband. After an opening where neither side created any real chances, Villa started to turn the screw and Olivia Fergusson's runs and crosses in from the right caused the Bees' backline all sorts of problems.
Ron Mellor and Joe Hunt's side took the lead on 17 minutes when Follis controlled a ball over the top and calmly slotted past Sophie Harris. Moments after the restart, the visiting stopper made an impressive save from Fergusson, palming her effort round the post.
The claret and blues certainly made the most of the resultant corner - though - as Richards headed home from a yard out from Jones' inswinging set piece.
The opening period was somewhat overshadowed by a nasty clash of heads between Chontelle Lawrence and Fergusson. Both ladies received lengthy treatment and rose to their feet but unsurprisingly had to be replaced before the interval.
In his pre-match notes, head coach Hunt spoke of his desire to end the season's home fixtures with a bang and - at the start of the second period - his side came out of the traps from the off. Follis - in particular - looked to get in behind the Bees' backline and urged left-back Lauren Walker to overlap at every opportunity.
The visitors reduced the deficit against the run of play when Gaylor latched onto Katherine Huggins' through ball from close range.
Villa continued to threaten and substitute Carly Davies - on in place of Fergusson - shot wide just after the hour. Then 10 minutes later, skipper Jones scored the goal her talismanic performance deserved when she headed home a left wing Follis cross, giving Harris no chance in the visiting goal.
In what was a real sense of déjà vu from the first half, Villa netted another in quick succession. Aoife Hurley's handball from Follis' goalbound shot saw her dismissed and Villa awarded a penalty which Wilkinson dispatched despite Harris diving the right way.
This clearly took the wind out of the capital-based side's sails and it was Villa that looked the more likely to add to their four goals in the latter stages in front of an impressive 315-strong crowd. Villa now have some respite before their final contest of the campaign at Oxford United in a fortnight's time.
Aston Villa: Caitlin Leach, Hayley Crackle (sub Natalie Courtney 88mins), Lauren Walker, Chloe Jones, Maisie Baker, Jade Richards, Emma Follis, Maddy Cusack, Katie Wilkinson, Sarah Mayling, Olivia Fergusson (sub Carly Davies 38mins). Subs not used: Elisha N'Dow, Dani Petrovic.
London Bees: Sophie Harris, Hannah Samuels, Chontele Lawrence (sub Samantha Carson 38mins), Rebecca Anderson, Cally Beaumont (sub Lucy Loomes 76mins), Aoife Hurley, Katherine Huggins, Amy Cooper (sub Laura Miller 80mins), Sydney Hinchcliffe, Paula Howells, Amber Gaylor. Subs not used: Imogen Riches, Elle-Louise Butcher, Shanade Hopcroft, Lois Colley.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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