REPORT: Aston Villa 1-3 Durham

Durham Women left it late to claim victory at Aston Villa.

In a strong performance at The Lamb Ground, Beth Hepple’s close range finish handed the Wildcats a first half lead.

Alice Hassall later equalised for the Villains from the penalty spot, but late strikes from Zoe Ness and Emily Roberts secured the three points.

Lee Sanders made three changes from the side that beat Sheffield, as Abi Cottam, Nicki Gears and skipper Sarah Wilson returned to the starting line-up.

And Wilson and her defensive colleagues were made to deal with plenty of Villa pressure early on, with the hosts’ Amy West sending a volley over the bar.

Durham grew into the contest, however, with Cottam firing over from the edge of the area before she then turned provider, sending a teasing cross just ahead of Ness.

After weathering the early storm, the Wildcats dominated as the first half drew to a close and deservedly took the lead on the stroke of the half time.

Beth Hepple’s close range finish beat Sian Rodgers, and owed much to the fine cross Gears which picked her out in the area.

It was much of the same after the interval as Durham continued to push forward – a swift counter-attack presenting Grace McCatty with an opportunity in the box, only for the defender to see her drilled effort parried by Rodgers.

But, somewhat against the run of play, Villa drew level with twenty minutes remaining.

Elizabeta Ejupi went down under the challenge of McCatty in the area, with Hassall dispatching the resultant spot-kick.

And Iain Sankey’s side could have taken the lead were it not for the goalkeeping of Helen Alderson, who denied substitute Beth Merrick after she found space in the box.

In a cagey end to the game, both teams squandered chances before an double-salvo in injury time handed the Wildcats victory.

First, Ness fired home from 12 yards after Gears had done well to win back possession and tee up the striker.

Then Roberts added some gloss to the scoreline, getting onto Ness’ fine through ball and rounding Rodgers before slotting home.

There was no time for a Villa comeback, as Durham picked up a well-deserved three points.

Durham: Alderson, Johnson (Bitzer), McCatty, Wilson, Robson (Lee), Hepple, Ness, Gears, Briggs, Cottam (Roberts), Hill

Subs Not Used: Todd, Atkinson

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