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Top three maintain pace
 Women's Football FA Women's Championship News - 21 Dec 2019
The weather greatly affected the FA Women's Championship on Sunday with two of the scheduled five fixtures having to be postponed.
However the three matches that were played produced good results for the top three at the start of play, increasing the gap between themselves and the teams below them.
Two of the four breakaway teams met each other at Boldmere St Michaels and it was leaders Aston Villa who emerged with a 3-1 victory over rivals London City Lionesses. They needed to come from behind though, as the Lionesses got off to a great start when they took a sixth minute lead through a super solo goal from Ellie Mason, a run from the halfway line which took her past several challenges before burying the ball past Sian Rogers. Villa's response was a swift one though, Emma Follis levelling the scores shortly afterwards from close range. Villa missed a great chance to go in front when a Marisa Ewers penalty was saved by Lucy Thomas but three minutes later, they were ahead through a deflected shot by Emily Syme. Chances came and went at both ends, the Lionesses going closest when a Harley Bennett free kick came back off the bar, but Ewers was to atone for her earlier penalty miss and wrap up the win for her side with the third goal, via a powerful strike from distance.
This means that Villa go into the Christmas and New Year break with a lead of three points over Sheffield Utd, who kept up the chase in second place by running out 4-1 winners away to Leicester City. Katie Wilkinson has been in magnificent form for the Blades since the start of the season and she gave them a fourth minute lead, which was doubled midway through the first half by Aimee Palmer. Paige Bayley-Gayle rekindled hopes for Leicester as she pulled a goal back ten minutes later but United's response was swift, Wilkinson restoring the two-goal advantage with her second ahead of half time. Wilkinson went on to complete her hat-trick and seal the points twelve minutes from time, when she headed in from a cross by Jade Pennock.
Durham Women meanwhile ensured that they remain a further three points adrift in third after they also won 4-1 away from home, against Crystal Palace. Beth Hepple curled home a delightful free kick from 25 yards to give the Wildcats an eleventh minute lead and the star winger netted her second shortly afterwards with a strike from the edge of the area. Hepple then turned provider for the third, her corner being bundled in from close range by Becky Salicki. Palace fought back after the break and gave themselves hope with a quarter of an hour remaining when Amber Stobbs broke through to drill home a low shot but it was Hepple's day and she crowned the victory with her hat-trick goal, slotting home from the penalty spot after Iris Achterhof had been brought down in the area.

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