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Aston Villa 0 Bristol Academy 4 (Weir 27, Lawrence 56, Boho-Sayo 81,84)
Bristol Academy ended their eight-month wait for a victory with a morale boosting victory in the opening Continental Tyres Cup match at Coles Lane.
A moment of class from Caroline Weir separated the sides at half time and Academy added three more goals after the break but were also grateful to two stunning saves early in the second half from the outstanding Mary Earps, who also kept out an injury time penalty to help Academy to their first win since beating Barcelona in the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Both teams took the chance to make a number of changes to their starting line ups and the game took a little time to settle down as a result, Academy having the first attempt on goal when Sophie Ingle fired over the bar.
Christie Murray drove a 25-yard shot inches over and the Scottish international was to have another chance moments later when being played in by Weir but her shot went wide of the post.
However six minutes later, the breakthrough that Academy craved came in stunning fashion. Jess Myers' clearance went as far as Weir who, despite only being a few yards inside the Villa half, returned the ball with interest with a shot which flew over the goalkeeper and hit the back of the net.
Villa responded well to going behind with Beth Merrick having a free kick saved and, shortly before the interval, a good ball from Merrick picked Abbey Leigh Stringer who hooked a shot inches wide from the edge of the area.
The home side made a double substitution at half time with the introductions of Alicia Robinson and Katie Wilkinson and it almost paid off as Villa started the second half strongly.
Wilkinson immediately set up a great chance with a low cross from the right for Merrick in front of goal but her shot was brilliantly kept out by Earps with a superb one handed save.
The in-form Earps was to excel again just two minutes later as Laura Cooper pumped a deep free kick into the area and Merrick connected well with a first time volley but once again, the Academy keeper pulled off a stunning reaction save to keep her side in front.
Academy hit back with Ingle's pass releasing Weir in the area but Myers maintained the fine standard of goalkeeping with an excellent fingertip save to deny the midfielder her second goal.
The visitors should really have had a penalty when Nadia Lawrence was felled inside the area but instead a free kick outside the box was awarded. It was not to matter though as, although Murray's initial shot was charged down by Emily Owen, Academy won the ball back and Weir clipped a pass over the Villa defence and into the path of Lawrence, who took a touch before burying her shot past Myers for the second goal.
Villa were now committed to go forward and brought on leading scorer Olivia Fergusson but a triple substitution freshened things up for Academy, including the introduction of pacey striker Jade Boho-Sayo.
Boho-Sayo was soon involved when a counter attack saw Angharad James put her through on goal but the striker was denied by a good stop from Myers, who blocked her effort with her legs.
The game was put beyond doubt with nine minutes remaining when the Villa defence were caught out by a short corner and although Myers made a fine save to deny Weir, Boho-Sayo was quickly onto the rebound to fire home.
Three minutes later, Boho-Sayo produced a fine 25-yard strike which gave Myers no chance, crashing in off the post and Academy were suddenly four goals ahead.
The second half had been bad tempered at times and threatened to boil over at one stage but Villa were given the chance of a consolation in injury time as, while defending a corner, Boho-Sayo was caught in possession in the area and subsequently brought down Wilkinson for a penalty. Wilkinson herself took the kick but Earps was not going to be beaten and dived to her right to claw the ball away before blocking the rebound and somehow managing to get across goal to save at the feet of Fergusson who had looked certain to score.
Aston Villa: Jess Myers, Maddy Cusack, Laura Cooper, Sherry McCue, Lauren Haynes, Emily Owen, Amy West (sub Katie Wilkinson 45mins), Katy Moran, Abi Cottam (sub Olivia Fergusson 64mins), Abbey Leigh Stringer (sub Alicia Robinson 45mins), Beth Merrick. Subs not used: Hannah George, Mollie Rouse, Georgia Griffiths, Chloe Beattie.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Tatiana Pinto, Lauren Townsend, Hannah Short (sub Angharad James 66mins), Marije Brummel, Caroline Weir, Nadia Lawrence (sub Evdokia Popadinova 66mins), Hayley Ladd, Christie Murray, Sophie Ingle, Sharla Passariello (sub Jade Boho-Sayo 66mins). Subs not used: Hannah Reid, Loren Dykes, Frankie Brown, Georgia Evans.
(top) Abbey Leigh Stringer goes close with a first half strike
(middle) Nadia Lawrence scores Bristol Academy's second goal
(bottom) Lauren Haynes makes a tackle on Sophie Ingle
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