It took penalties to separate Durham from Super League opponents Aston Villa as the Continental Cup group stage came to an end.
Ultimately, it was the Super League team that won the bonus point, winning 4-2 on penalties after the teams were tied 1-1 after 90 minutes. However, the current leaders have more than outperformed their opponents and will be annoyed that they didn’t take all three points.
It was the home team that got off to a blistering start and scored the first goal in just four minutes. Emily Roberts’ cross shot after a good job on the right of the authoritative Ellie Christon over Sian Rogers.
After the game, Roberts freely admitted it was more of a cross than a shot, but it was no less than the Wildcats deserved. The first 20 minutes were dominated by Durham, and Villa struggled to navigate the press.
Manager Lee Sanders put his side to three in the back formation, which worked well in the early stages. The Portuguese national player Diana Silva appeared at times very isolated against the fearsome defense of Sarah Wilson, Sarah Robson and Kathryn Hill.
The night was overwhelmingly positive for Durham, which showed they could more than keep up with their Super League opponents.
Despite the early goal, Durham continued to score a number of half-chances. Mollie Lambert tested Rogers twice from the edge of the box while Christon shot just wide after an excellent job from Lauren Briggs and Bridget Galloway to shorten the Villa’s defense open.
It appeared to be 2-0 after Beth Hepple broke the line of defense just for her shot to hit the post.
After Gemma Davies weathered the early storm, she began to grow into the game. The Durham press was beaten towards the end of the half. Villa’s numerical superiority in midfield was also beginning to show, and it was a final challenge from Sarah Robson and a wise save from Megan Borthwick to throw a deflected shot over the bar to ensure Durham went on break.
Villa started the match with a twisted team, but there was no doubt they were here to win. Manager Davies made two submarines at halftime, with Danish international Stine Larsen and club captain Marisa Ewers going into the fight.
The second half was more even. Both sides fought hard and created opportunities. Before the game, it was likely that both teams would advance to the next round, even though neither player treated the game like a dead rubber.
Indeed, there may have been a glimmer of luck that people like Diana Silva and Mollie Lambert escaped caution in a particularly lively encounter at times. Both sides faced a number of tough challenges that the umpire wanted to let go of.
So it was a bit of a surprise when the bad guys in age 65. Minute received a penalty for seemingly very little. Justice may then be served when Megan did an excellent job of rescuing Borthwick on her right to keep Stine Larsen off the spot.
Performances like tonight suggest that they may be ready to take the step up.
The visitors, however, were undeniable. Less than 10 minutes later, Emma Follis converted a free kick for the edge of the box amid more-than-valid Durham complaints about the award of the foul.
The last fifteen minutes got longer as both sides searched for a winner. Durham seemed more likely to score as they repeatedly stole the ball up off a tired Villa backline.
The best chance was Molly Sharpe, who was rejected one-on-one by Rogers after her release by Lambert. A winner would have been a nice reward for the outstanding performance of both Durham players.
It shouldn’t be, however, and it would be penalties that would determine who heads the group. Both Hepple and Lambert were superbly turned down by Rogers, who spared the blush from Follis, who drove her penalty high and wide, to give the Midlands side the bonus point.
Despite the small disappointment with the shootout, the night was overwhelmingly positive for Durham. It showed that they could more than keep up with their Super League opponents.
After the game, striker Emily Roberts spoke to the Palatinate: “It just gives you the boost you need to know that you can keep up with a good football standard. It gives us a lot of positive results in the league. ”
It is the league that will undoubtedly be the focus of Durham as they are currently at the top of the championship. Performances like tonight suggest that they may be ready to take the step up.
Durham XI: Borthwick; Wilson, Robson (Lee, 70 ‘), Hill; Christon (Ayre, 85 ’), Lambert, Hepple, Briggs; Sharpe, Roberts (Crosthwaite, 79 ‘), Galloway (Brown, 85’)
FA Women’s League Cup, Aston Villa F. . C.. . , Manchester United F. . C.. . , Emma Follis
World news – GB – Durham impresses despite defeat on penalties
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