Aston Villa Women have progressed into the knock-out stages of the Continental Cup thanks to goalkeeper Sian Rogers, who produced two fine saves in the deciding penalty shoot-out.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa Women returned to Continental Cup action this evening with a game against last season’s promotion rivals Durham Women – in an attempt to secure their route out of the group stages.
Emily Roberts gifted Durham Women the lead after just five minutes after the winger fired a cross in from the right which flummoxed goalkeeper Sian Rogers. Despite an attempt at an acrobatic save, Rogers couldn’t get a hand to the ball and it nestled into the far corner of the net.
Durham had started with an intensity that made it hard for Aston Villa Women to play their building from the back style of football and forced Rogers into another save shortly after. Their pressing made the Villans uncomfortable and the side struggled to get the ball into the opposition half.
Twelve minutes into the game, and Villa’s first real threat came in the form of a long-range shot from Nadine Hanssen that forced the Durham goalkeeper into a awkward save that the onrushing Emily Syme couldn’t capitalise on.
As the game continued, Aston Villa were pinned into their own half and it became clear that passing out of the back wasn’t working – especially with lackadaiscal passing to get the ball out of their own half.
Durham had a clear opportunity just a few minutes before the half hour mark, as Beth Hepple smacked a ball into the upright in the 27th.
Diana Silva was earmarked by the ref and told to calm down as the game edged closer to the end of the first half after a trio of crunching tackles to stop Durham from making inroads down the left hand side.
Emma Follis had a solid chance a few minutes before the end of the half, but Sarah Robson closed her down well and slid the ball away.
Aston Villa made two changes at the start of the second half, replacing Amy West with Marisa Ewers, and Sophie Haywood with Stine Larsen.
Diana Silva had a great chance in a central position to level the scoreline, but she couldn’t get the ball out of her feet quick enough and her shot was blocked by a charging defender.
Aston Villa Women had started the second half much stronger and had taken control of the game back – either through a tactical change from Gemma Davies or a lack of energy from Durham following their relentless press in the first half.
The dominance from the women in claret and blue paid off as Gemma Davies’ side were awarded a penalty in the 67th minute – but Borthwick dived the right way for Larsen’s penalty and saved the ball well before sparking a Durham counter-attack.
A few minutes later and Marisa Ewers, who had only been on the pitch during the second half, pulled up injured. The German midfielder was replaced by Chloe Arthur.
Emma Follis picked up an equaliser fifteen minutes from time with a well-hit free-kick which bounced under the goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner of the net – after she’d been denied twice in the first half.
In the dying embers of the game, Durham could have won the game after a mistake from Anita Asante allowed the home side to counter – but Sian Rogers was alert and got down low to block the shot.
The game went to penalties, as Continental Cup draws do – to give the winner an extra point – and in this tie, the extra point would decide who would top the table.
- Emma Follis (AV) ❌ (Off-target)
- Sarah Wilson (DU) ✔️
- Nadine Hanssen (AV) ✔️
- Beth Hepple (DU) ❌ (Saved by Rogers)
- Caroline Siems (AV) ✔️
- Mollie Lambert (DU) ❌ (Saved by Rogers)
- Stine Larsen (AV) ✔️
- Lauren Briggs (DU) ✔️
- Natalie Haigh (AV) ✔️
Aston Villa progress as group winners!