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Villa by a whisker
 Women's Football News 29 Feb 2016
 
Villa by a whisker - 29 Feb 2016 - Women's Football NewsTottenham Hotspur 2 Aston Villa 3 (aet)
Aston Villa take their place in the Fifth Round of the SSE FA Women's Cup courtesy of an extra time spot kick winner over Tottenham Hotspur at Cheshunt FC after a fiercely contested and very even tie in the best traditions of the competition. 
 
The FAWPL Southern Division hosts gave as good as they got from the FAWSL 2 visitors for the entire 120 minutes, twice taking the lead through Bianca Baptiste, including a candidate for fastest ever goal in the competition timed at around 8 SECONDS after kick off.
 
The wind was in Spurs' favour in the first half and a lofted through ball almost from the kick off was missed by two Villa defenders allowing Baptiste to nip in and lob the ball alertly over the advancing keeper Jess Myers for an amazing start.
 
The hosts dominated the opening exchanges, penning Villa their own half for most of the opening twenty minutes with slick passing and good pressure on the defenders. A Baptiste free kick on eight minutes nearly doubled the lead, with a deflection turning the ball inches wide of the far post.
 
Gradually Villa found their rhythm and were able to push Spurs back. Beth Merrick was the focus of most of the Villa threat and from a right wing cross, Katie Wilkinson's close range header drew a fine reaction save from Toni-Anne Wayne to push the ball away at full stretch. However, Merrick set up the Villa equaliser with a pinpoint driven 40-yard pass to release Destiney Toussaint and, although Wayne got an outstretched hand to her powerful effort, the ball bounced home on 25 minutes.
 
A free kick for Villa on the edge of the area was cleverly worked by Maddy Cusack only for Merrick to slice wide when well placed on 33 minutes but Spurs finished the half strongly with Avilla Bergin testing the left side of the Villa defence and Baptiste nearly finishing the half as she had started it with a blocked effort.
 
Villa restarted well using the strong breeze, a Cusack free kick from distance drawing a save from Wayne. Bergin went close at the other end, blocking a Myers clearance but the ball was blown away from danger on 57 minutes.
 
A super effort from Baptiste gave Spurs the advantage again on 63 minutes. Moving alertly on to a loose back pass wide on the left, the striker measured a perfect lob over the keeper from a tight angle.
 
Villa rang the changes in response but it was still Merrick who was threatening. Latching on to a poor clearance, the winger's shot was parried by Wayne with Jenna Schillaci completing the clearance. Villa continued to press and Toussaint was denied by an excellent tackle by Lucia Leon. However, from the resulting corner, perfectly flighted beyond the defenders, Mollie Rouse was on hand at the far post to turn home the equaliser on 83 minutes.
 
Villa looked the more likely to win in normal time, sub Amy West curling an effort inches wide on 87 minutes, then Toussaint having a shot blocked for a corner which Wayne punched away before saving well again from a Toussaint header. but the tie ended level after 90 minutes.
 
Wendy Martin, who had worked very effectively in Spurs' midfield all match, rattled the angle of post and bar in the first period of extra time but it was Villa who found the winner.
 
Wilkinson was clipped and went down in the area and then stepped up to convert the spot kick low to Wayne's right on 109 minutes.
 
Spurs pressed hard to try and force penalties. Bergin sent a near post effort wide and two late corners gave the home team hope, keeper and former centre back Wayne using her outfield skills to win a header in the box, but to no avail.
 
Villa had edged through after a courageous performance but Spurs also had every reason to feel proud of every player who had given a strong WSL 2 team an uncomfortable ride from start to finish in a thoroughly entertaining tie. 
 
Tottenham Hotspur: Toni-Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Leah Rawle, Sophie McLean, Alex Keown, Avilla Bergin, Bianca Baptiste, Wendy Martin, Jenna Schillaci, Riana Soobadoo, Josie Green. Subs: Shannon Moloney, Molly Kmita, Rosie Kmita, Amy Cooper.

Aston Villa: Jess Myers, Hayley Crackle, Hannah George, Jade Richards, Elisha N'Dow, Beth Merrick, Katie Moran, Mollie Rouse, Maddy Cusack, Destiney Toussaint, Katie Wilkinson. Subs: Chloe Beattie, Amy West, Leanne Bryant.

(Report by Patrick Higgins)

Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:

(top) Avilla Bergin is challenged by Elisha N'Dow
(middle) Destiney Toussaint gets in a shot past Lucia Leon
(bottom) A decisive penalty is given in extra time as Shannon Moloney, Katie Wilkinson and Alex Keown tussle


 
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