WSL 2 weeks 13-14 review: Top four spar on busy Sunday

Getting through their games in hand, the Bees won one and lost one in a busy few days at home as Sheffield hit Watford for four.

In the midweek fixtures, there was plenty of late drama as Millwall, the Bees and Spurs all found late winners against Villa, Brighton and Oxford with a Belles win over Durham rounding out the results.

The only team to make it two wins from two over the week, the Bees saw off Watford in style as Villa slipped past Oxford, the Belles fell to Brighton and Sheffield put four of the best past Spurs.

Elsewhere, Millwall’s lengthy unbeaten run came to an end away to Durham.

London Bees 2-1 Aston Villa

Starting off a busy ten days, the Bees picked up their fourth win of the season, seeing off an improving Villa team. Back to haunt her former team, Katie Wilkinson made it two goals in two meetings against Villa to open the scoring on the half hour at the Hive before Destiney Toussaint made it two in first-half stoppage time.

Having been on the back foot for most of the game, the visitors rallied late and found a last-minute consolation through Ebony Salmon.

London Bees 1-3 Durham

Having enjoyed success at the Hive in recent years, the Wildcats came back to haunt the Bees, Sarah Robson’s first-half header enough to tip the balance in favour of the visitors.

A clinical free kick from Beth Hepple seconds before the break saw Durham extend their advantage and leave little room for the hosts to find a second-half comeback.

Emily Roberts’ goal soon after the restart put the match to bed when she raced in behind the high backline and sent the ball underneath Grace Taylor.

Awarded a penalty, the hosts pulled one back through Wilkinson fifteen minutes from time, her spot kick to the bottom left corner just out of the reach of Helen Alderson, though it was too little too late.

Sheffield 4-0 Watford

Up against league strugglers Watford, Sheffield wasted no time asserting themselves at home, Beth Donoghue’s 17-minute strike enough to get the better of Fran Kitching.

Well on top but not making the most of their chances, the cushion finally came three minutes before the break when Hannah Cain found the top corner from outside the box.

Two fast became three as Emma Johnson converted from the spot after Cain had been felled in the box in the dying seconds of the half.

Brought on for Cain after the hour, Rhema Lord-Mears needed just 12 minutes to find a fourth for the hosts, clinical from close range to further the lead. Running the show, the hosts saw a good number of chances saved by Kitching as the Chelsea loanee did all she could to keep the home side out, four more than enough for Sheffield.

London Bees 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Scoring in her third straight match, Wilkinson left the Seagulls stunned as the visitors had started the brighter of the two teams.

A deserved equaliser for Brighton arrived just after the hour when Aileen Whelan’s header got the better of an in-form Nicola Hobbs, the match drifting towards a draw.

On the pitch for a matter of seconds, Tricia Gould found a late winner in London when she used her fresh legs to work around the defence before dispatching her shot past Laura Hartley for Brighton’s third loss of the term.

Doncaster Belles 3-1 Durham

Always billed as a top match, the Belles hit the ground running at the Keepmoat when Kirsty Hanson fired the hosts ahead four minutes in. The Belles did well to dictate the pace of the match, claiming a quick second, having just seen her shot saved off of the line, Sophie Bradley-Auckland needed no further invitation to put Sophie Walton’s free-kick away.

Seeing a good handful of chances to extend their lead, the Belles put the match to bed on the stroke of half-time when Hanson claimed her ninth league goal of the season, nutmegging Alderson in the process.

A Zoe Ness header five minutes into the second half gave Durham a grain of hope but the Wildcats failed to build, Alderson the busier of the two keepers, the veteran called on throughout the rest of the match.

Millwall Lionesses 2-1 Aston Villa

On the back of an emotional few days with the announcement that the club could yet cease to be before the end of the season should the requisite funding not be acquired, Millwall survived a scare at home.

In a tight match that saw both sides willing to give little to each other, Salmon continued her fine scoring form with a low effort from close range after having skipped into the box with the ball.

The lead lasted but a matter of seconds as Millwall attacked straight from the restart, Rianna Dean’s toe-poke enough to bring about parity amongst confusion in the box.

The match turned on its head in stoppage time when captain Leighanne Robe overcooked a 40-yard free kick, the visitors left shocked when the ball rocketed over the bodies in the box and slipped under Aja Aguirre’s bar.

Credit: Getty/Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto
Credit: Getty/Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto

Oxford United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Still enjoying mixed fortunes this season, Spurs claimed their fifth win of the season with a last-gasp winner in Oxford.

After Demi Lambourne had done well to keep a Bianca Baptiste effort out, Katie O'Leary was johnny on the spot to turn home the rebound and break the deadlock half an hour in.

With the match having opened up and both sides guilty of spurning chances, Hannah Short fired the U’s level with her first goal of the season twenty minutes from time.

The game reverted back to a quiet affair and looked to be rolling towards an inevitable draw until Ashleigh Neville was felled in the area and Graeme Hopper was left with no decision but to point to the spot.

Birmingham City loanee Coral-Jade Haines stepped up and coolly dispatched the ball into the hungry net, having sent Lambourne the wrong way, scooping all three points late in the day.

Durham 2-1 Millwall Lionesses

Slightly off of the pace this season, compared to last, Durham dug out a strong performance at home to put an end to the Lionesses’ longstanding unbeaten record.

Ness’ sixth-minute goal gave the Wildcats the edge in the tie before Ellie Mason levelled the scores with a low volley fifteen minutes later. Close to taking the lead, Dean saw her flicked volley bounce off of the bar before Roberts found the back of the net at the other end with a well-placed shot to beat Sarah Quantrill.

Pushing for a third, the hosts lacked the clinical touch to get the better of the ‘keeper but held out well to claim their eighth win of the year.  

Dropping their unbeaten record at the same time as the table-topping Belles, Millwall remain six points adrift with one match in hand, their record identical to their title-rivals.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Sheffield

Having put four past the same opposition when they met earlier in the year, Sheffield hit the Lilywhites for another four when they faced off in London.

Melissa Johnson’s fourth-minute strike saw the visitors hit the ground running as the in-form attacker found the bottom corner from 23-yards.

With both sides seeing good chances, it was Sheffield who took theirs, Johnson’s light touch enough to take a whipped Jenna Dear free kick past Toni-Anne Wayne just before half time.

Neville pulled the hosts back to within one early in the second half with a firm near-post header before Chloe Dixon put a clinical shot past Wayne from the right side of the box.

Still alive in the fixture, Sarah Wiltshire gave Spurs some late hope with a world-class strike, sending the ball looping through the box on the half-volley leaving Danielle Gibbons’ reaching for air. Wiltshire popped up in the box again ten minutes later, the striker only able to divert Johnson’s cross into her own net in an attempt to stop Lord-Mears from scoring.

Aston Villa 1-0 Oxford United

Without a win in seven in all competitions coming into the match, the U’s had little joy in the Midlands as Villa scooped their third win of the campaign, pulling themselves within two of their visiting opposition.

Salmon’s second-half strike secured all three points for the Villainesses though it easily could have been more than one had the hosts not found Lambourne in fine form.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Doncaster Belles

Unbeaten in the league coming into the fixture, the Belles saw their record slip at Albion’s new home, the match made up of fine margins but the hosts edging the contest from the get-go.

Laura Rafferty’s early goal proved to be the difference, the 21-year-old well placed to pick up the loose ball as it bounced around at a deflected corner before slotting it into the top corner. Sturdy in defence, the hosts saw off the better chances from the league leaders to claim a big win.

Watford 0-4 London Bees

Taking her tally to five goals in four matches, Wilkinson was once again instrumental as the Bees picked up their sixth win of the season, rounding out a gruelling week and a half.

With the Bees starting brightly, Watford had to be sharp to keep the scores locked in the opening exchanges, Kitching on her toes from the outset.

Finally, off the mark a quarter of an hour in with a neat header, Wilkinson then set up former Villa teammate Toussaint to finish from close range. The match continued in the same vein after the break, and Gould proved to be potent off of the bench once more, heading home ten minutes into the second half, the visitors continuing to ask questions.

A late foul on Wilkinson brought about the fourth and final goal of the match, the striker stepping up to convert from 12-yards for her seventh of the season.

WSL 2 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)
WSL 2 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)