Sunday 11 March 2018

Durham Strike Late To Down Villa

Durham Women scored twice in the closing stages to take all three points at The Lamb. Alice Hassall had earlier looked to have secured a point when she equalised from the spot

Two goals in the closing minutes of the match snatched all three points for Durham Women against Aston Villa Ladies at The Lamb on Mother’s Day.

Zoe Ness and Emily Roberts struck in the 89th and 91st minute respectively as the visitors inflicted a cruel defeat on Villa.

The home side had fought back from conceding on the stroke of half-time to a Beth Hepple strike when Alice Hassall levelled from the penalty spot.

But the late brace buried the home side and condemned them to a Women’s Super League Two loss.

Villa have been performing well of late but not getting the points to show for it, and they started well against mid-table Durham.

The game was just two minutes old when the ball looped out to Amy West on the edge of the box. The midfielder watched the ball onto her right foot and sent a volley flying just over the bar.

Having dominated the opening stages, Villa were hit with a stark warning from their opponents when Abi Cottam broke away on the right-hand side of the area and fired a shot just past the post.

A highly competitive game saw the home side matching the physicality of the visitors, with a couple of particularly heavy challenges resulting in Sian Rogers and Jodie Hutton needing treatment.

There was little to separate the teams as the game ticked into first half stoppage time, but that all changed when Durham snatched the initiative.

Nicki Gears delivered a cross from the left-hand side and her fellow winger Hepple was in the right place to steer the ball past Rogers from close range.

The second half was passing by without much incident until Ebony Salmon looked to ignite her team as she raced onto a throw-in by substitute Beth Merrick.

The striker left two defenders for dead she raced down the byline and into the box, but a last ditch slide tackle prevented her from getting a shot away.

Villa were upping the ante in search of an equaliser as the game ticked into the last quarter of the match, and Hutton nearly provided it.

The winger got on the end of Chloe Jones’ first time cross from the left but she sent her header just wide of the target.

With just under 20 minutes left, the home side were handed a prime chance to level the scores when the referee awarded a penalty as Ejupi got clattered by Grace McCatty in the area.

The striker was forced off as a result of the challenge but her spirits will have been lifted when Hassall stroked the penalty into the far corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.

Durham were rocking and as Villa surged forward once again, Merrick forced a smart save from Helen Alderson.

Asmita Ale and Ellen Martin were introduced as Villa kept pushing for the winner, with the former coming on for her senior debut.

Just as the match looked to be headed for a draw, the visitors caught Villa with a cruel sucker punch.

Ness found space on the edge of the area and drilled the ball low into the far corner past the despairing Rogers.

And as Villa chucked everything at them in search of an equaliser, Durham made the game safe when Roberts rounded Rogers and slotted home in stoppage time.

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