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It was time again for the Continental Cup on Sunday, with the third round of fixtures in the group stages.
Group A is looking set to provide two teams from the Championship in the quarter finals, with Durham Women continuing to head the way after beating Coventry Utd 4-0. Beth Hepple put the Wildcats two ahead during the first half with a brace of goals, with Katherine Hill adding a third ahead of half time. Holly Manders rounded off the scoring five minutes from time, to complete a victory which keeps Durham three points ahead at the top of the group. Sheffield Utd have moved into second place on the back of a 4-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers. Katie Wilkinson gave United the lead from the penalty spot on the quarter hour and the striker netted her second five minutes before half time. Sam Tierney made if three shortly after the break and Jade Pennock netted the final goal, before Saffron Jordan grabbed a consolation for Rovers via a late penalty. Aston Villa stay level on points with Sheffield Utd following a 2-0 win against WSL opponents Liverpool. Emma Follis opened the scoring for Villa with six minutes on the clock, with Emily Syme netting the second late on to crown a fine victory for the Championship leaders.
It was something of a strange day in Group B, where all three matches ended in draws and required a penalty shootout to decide the outcome of the points. This included Arsenal who were beaten 4-2 on the spot by Brighton & Hove Albion, after the teams had fought out a goalless draw. Arsenal still remain on top of the group though as Bristol City, who started the the day level on points with them, also picked up a single point after drawing 1-1 with London City Lionesses. The Lionesses took a seventeenth minute lead through Leanne Cowan, with the Vixens hitting back midway through the second half with an equaliser from Charlie Wellings. Neither side could find a winner in the final stages and it was the Lionesses who claimed the extra point with a victory on penalties. The other group match also finished goalless, before London Bees kept their hopes of reaching the quarter finals alive with a shootout win against Charlton Athletic.
Group C could not be any closer between the top three as they are all level on points, now headed on goal difference by Manchester Utd following their 3-0 win away to Everton. Lauren James gave United the lead midway through the first half, before goals in the last eleven minutes from Katie Zelem and Amy Turner sealed the victory on the day and a margin of victory large enough to take them to the top of the group. Birmingham City had started the day as group leaders but they were beaten for the first time, 2-1 by Manchester City, which means that the two teams now have identical records. After a goalless first half, Man City took the lead six minutes after the restart when Ellen White scored against her former club. Rachel Williams brought the scores level just after the hour but four minutes later, Caroline Weir netted a decisive second for Man City, boosting the holders' chances of reaching the knockout stages and bringing an end to her side's run of three straight defeats.
There was a change of leadership in Group D with Chelsea taking over at the top after winning 2-1 away to Lewes. Erin Cuthbert gave Chelsea a first half lead which was quickly cancelled out by Katie Rood but with ten minutes remaining, Magdalena Ericsson scored to hand Chelsea their third straight win and move them closer to a place in the quarter finals. Reading FC Women had been the group leaders but went down to their first defeat, beaten 1-0 by West Ham Utd. Alisha Lehmann scored the only goal of the game, fifteen minutes from time, to rekindle the Hammers' chances of making it into the last eight. Tottenham Hotspur meanwhile replaced Crystal Palace in third place after winning their meeting 3-0. Anna Filbey opened the scoring with six minutes on the clock, with Spurs sealing the win with late goals from Kit Graham and Lucy Quinn.
Photo - Sam Tierney heads in Sheffield Utd's third goal against Blackburn Rovers (Julian Barker).
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