#FAWSL 2: Brighton & Hove Albion Women go third

Photo: seagulls.fawsl.com

While WSL 2’s leading pair – Doncaster Rovers Belles and Millwall Lionesses – won again, Brighton & Hove Albion climbed above Durham into third and Aston Villa were victorious in the basement battle.

Sunday 25th March 

Oxford United 2-4 Millwall Lionesses (Att: 206)
Sheffield FC 1-4 Brighton & Hove Albion (Att: 284)
Doncaster Rovers Belles 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Att: 572)
Watford 0-3 Aston Villa

Brighton bag four and go third

Ini Umotong scored her eighth goal of the season as Brighton moved up to third place in the WSL 2 with a 4-1 win at Sheffield FC.

Umotong scored the only goal of the opening half but Kate Natkiel and Aileen Whelan extended the lead for Hope Powell’s side after the break.

Danielle Buet stepped up and sent a late penalty passed Danielle Gibbons before Emma Johnson got a late consolation from the spot for Sheffield.

Kate Natkiel said: “We’re definitely happy, it’s always nice to score but I thought it was a really good performance from the team as a whole and I think we could have scored a couple of more goals too.

“It took us a while to get into the game and to get used to the pitch but towards the end of the game it was quite comfortable and we showed what we’re capable of going forward.”

Sheffield’s Zoe Johnson said: “We started to get back in it but the second goal was poor, we’ve given a counter away and we’ve lost all momentum from there, but we weren’t good enough all over the pitch today.

“There’s a massive lack of consistency, we’ve got players who show the talent one week and then not the next.”

Belles beat Spurs to stay top

Doncaster Rovers Belles maintained their lead at the top of WSL 2 with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

Doncaster’s Kirsty Hanson opened the scoring 33 minutes into a scrappy but open first half, finishing into the bottom corner after Sam Tierney won the ball well in midfield and played in Rebecca Rayner to tee up Hanson.

The Belles felt hard done by six minutes after the break after Ryah Vyse felled Jess Sigsworth right on the edge of the penalty box, with both players going in the referee’s book – Vyse for the foul, and Sigsworth for her claims that it should have been a penalty.

The decision proved almost as good as a spot-kick for the hosts however, with Rayner’s overhead kick deflecting wide for a corner from which the striker doubled the Belles’ lead.

That came courtesy of Sophie Walton’s excellent low delivery, which Rayner stuck into the bottom corner without hesitation.

Rhiannon Roberts went close again from another set-piece 11 minutes from time, with her header from Emily Simpkins’ corner skimming the bar.

But it was Sigsworth who had the final emphatic word, carrying the ball forward from 30 yards out and smashing it in off the underside of the bar.

Belles head coach Neil Redfearn said: “The first half was tough.

“Spurs came and played well and they made it difficult for us but I said to the girls at half time: ‘we’re top of the league. People are going to come and set their stall out and make it hard for you.’

“The thing that really pleased me was that they didn’t panic and I thought, second-half, we were outstanding.

“The goals were out of the top drawer. It was a really pleasing performance.

“I thought Rhiannon Roberts was the best player on the pitch. To go from centre-back to playing midfield like that; she’s never played there before.”

Tottenham head coach Juan Amoros said:

Obviously, we are always disappointed with a defeat and losing 3-0 but I think the performance, especially the first half; we matched them.

“They’ve been unbeaten for however long and are top of the league, and we were 1-0 down at half-time but if I’m honest, I think we could have been ahead.

“Second half, Doncaster were better, especially the last 15-20 minutes but, for us, this is still a learning experience.”

Dean & Devlin at the double for Millwall

Two-goal Charlie Devlin. (Photo: millwall.fawsl.com)

Rianna Dean and Charlie Devlin both scored twice as Millwall Lionesses maintained the pressure on FA WSL2 leaders Doncaster with an impressive 4-2 win against Oxford United.

Oxford came within a whisker of taking a fourth-minute lead when Chloe Chivers was put through, only for her dinked effort over Sarah Quantrill to come back off the bar.

Instead, it was Millwall who went ahead when Dean received the ball in space before sending a wonderful shot from 25 yards sailing into the top corner.

The Lionesses then doubled their lead when Oxford goalkeeper Demi Lambourne couldn’t claim Megan Alexander’s cross and Dean was on hand to slam in the loose ball.

But Oxford quickly halved the deficit after Leighanne Robe was unable to clear her lines, with Kayleigh Hines arrowing a superb strike across Quantrill.

The hosts then wasted a great chance to draw level before half-time when Chivers had a penalty saved by Quantrill after Viki Wotton had been penalised for handball.

Millwall made the result safe with 20 minutes left when Amber Gaylor picked out substitute Devlin, who twisted past Riva Casley before bending a shot into the far corner.

Devlin then added her second with a lovely chip over Lambourne before Chivers blasted in a goal she deserved from a narrow angle for an Oxford consolation.

Oxford United midfielder Dan Carlton said: “The score does feel a bit harsh. We were on top for about 18 minutes of the game and it’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t finish the chances that we created.

“We don’t really get a lot of luck – we had two injuries in the first half to Lauren Haynes and Kayleigh Hines that didn’t help us in any way, but we stuck together as a team and worked hard.”

Millwall Lionesses striker Rianna Dean said: “For the first goal, I just saw the ‘keeper off her line and didn’t really think, I just hit it. Charlie [Devlin] also came up with a couple of great finishes when she came on.

“Amber [Gaylor] deserved credit for the second goal because she was the one putting the ‘keeper off and the ball just dropped to me.”

Villa halt losing spell

Aston Villa ended a run of four straight league defeats to move six points clear of winless Watford.

Dominating possession, Villa took a deserved lead when Alice Hassell fired home from 10 yards after Fran Kitching failed to hold Amy West’s dangerous right-wing cross.

Villa should have settled the contest by the half hour mark but Jade Richards struck wide with a snap shot, Kitching tipped West’s looping header on to the crossbar and Sam Hallsworth denied Richards with a goal line clearance.

Villa duly wrapped up the points shortly after the break when Jodie Hutton scored from close range after Phoebe Warner earned a corner.

Helen Ward went agonisingly wide on 54 minutes but there was no way back for Watford, as  Villa’s Beth Merrick crashed home number three off the underside of the crossbar 14 minutes from time.

Villa head coach Iain Sankey said: “In the first half we had chances to put the ball in to the danger area but it went into the ‘keeper’s hands rather than space for a player to run on to.

“When we got a chance to play the ball in the second half we hurt the opposition.The first half was a little disappointing but we went in 1-0 up which was a bonus for us.

“We told the players we had to pass the ball better, lift our tempo, pick up the second ball better and then chances would come. They did and we stuck them away.”

Watford boss Armand Kavaja added: “It was a disappointing result but I thought we played well in the first half.

“We were unlucky not to score in the first half and then the second goal killed us It was a bit of sloppy defending for the second, we didn’t clear the ball but there are positives to take from our first half performance which we’ll take into Thursday’s game.

“The girls never gave up, which was a credit to them. We want the desire and the passion. We want every girl to be committed in every single challenge right to the end, and we did that.”

By Sportsbeat

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