A Sunday packed with action saw all 10 WSL 2 teams in action, with some thrilling comebacks and surprising results on the cards as the five games brought about 17 goals.
Leach shines in scoreless draw – Durham 0-0 Bristol City
The first action of the day saw two promotion chasers lock horns to gain an advantage in the four-way tie for the top two spots. Although the visiting Vixens had the better chances in the first-half they struggled to trouble Helen Alderson, however the second-half belonged to the hosts who couldn’t find a way past a superb Caitlin Leach in the Bristol goal.
The former Villain was in fine form to thwart new signing Emily Roberts either side of the break before pulling off a top-drawer save to deny Beth Hepple late in the day.
A point a piece but possibly the most significant thing to happen over the 90 minutes was an injury to Millie Farrow, Willie Kirk suggesting that the Chelsea loanee had re-dislocated her shoulder and would be requiring surgery that could take her out of action until the end of the season.
Merrick inspires Villa comeback – Aston Villa 3-1 Millwall Lionesses
The Villains were left stunned seconds into the game when an unmarked Grace Fisk nodded past Grace Moloney following a pin-point cross from Ashlee Hincks.
However, the hosts grew into the game at an unfamiliar Stratford Town FC and were back on level terms when Sarah Quantrill misjudged a Beth Merrick free kick and was left red-faced when the ball sailed through her parted gloves.
Just seven minutes later Villa doubled their lead courtesy of a sublime Merrick shot from outside the box, the match put to bed when Grace Smith scored five minutes after her introduction. Although Millwall had their chances, Moloney refused to be bested twice in the same match and was huge for her team, notably denying two well struck Rinsola Babajide efforts.
The win sees Villa put an end to their six-match run with a victory but stretches Millwall’s winless streak to nine. The Lionesses' last win came on the first day of the season.
Loanees do the business for the Blue Girls – Everton 3-0 Yeovil Town
Everton took to the pitch in Widnes knowing no more than three points would be acceptable against a Yeovil side who had only tasted defeat once this seasonm and the Blue Girls set the tempo early on when Arsenal loanee Chloe Kelly’s half-volley evaded Yeovil’s third choice keeper, Beth Howard.
From one London loanee to another, Chelsea’s Rosella Ayane added a second just seven minutes later, thumping the ball home from point-blank range. With the Lady Glovers still looking for their footing in the game Kelly added a third from the spot just ten minutes before the break after being felled in the box by Kayleigh Green.
Despite a noticeable improvement in the second-half, Yeovil couldn’t beat the Toffees' sticky defence or Kirstie Levell in goal however, while Howard came up trumps in the second-half to keep Everton at three.
The win comes as a breath of fresh air for the Blue Girls who had lost their last three matches in all competitions. Conversely the loss is the first Yeovil have suffered in the league since the opening night of the season.
Bees outclassed at the Hive – London Bees 0-5 Sheffield FC
With the Bees unbeaten in the last seven in all competitions and Sheffield having won four of their last five – all against three of the top four in WSL 2 - this match promised to be a hotly contested affair.
However, the match was one-sided from start to finish, Sheffield setting the pace from the off with Emma Johnson opening the scoring for the day less than ten minutes in, finishing from close range after Imogen Riches parried a Jodie Michalska shot into her path.
But again the visitors proved to be wasteful in front of goal, missing a host of good chances that meant they could only take a one goal lead into the break.
Still, with the Bees unable to hit top gear their opponents kept growing and Michalska doubled their lead ten minutes after the restart, heading home unmarked in the box. With 20 minutes left Chelsea Flanagan added a third after getting the decisive touch on a Kirsty Hanson cross but the goals kept coming.
First, Ellie Gilliatt side-footed into the bottom corner under no pressure in the box and then Flanagan made it five just two minutes later after Riches bundled her speculative effort into her own net, capping off a dreadful performance from the hosts and a masterclass from the visitors.
Davy double helps Hornets at home – Watford 3-2 Oxford United
Just 20 minutes into the bottom of the table clash and the U’s were already leading two goals to nothing. First, Ella Franklin-Fraiture lobbed Lucy Gillett then less than ten minutes later Ini Umotong broke past the defence before slotting home.
However, the Golden Girls refused to let their heads drop and dug in, their resolve paying dividends on the stroke of half-time when Anne-Laure Davy got in behind the defence and unleashed her shot past Hannah Cox in the Oxford goal.
Where the U’s had been on top in the first-half, their hosts had turned the game on it's head and began to boss the second-half, Giulia Ferrandi tying the scores up just three minutes after the restart after beating the offside trap and notching her first for the Golden Girls. Davy then completed the come-back just eight minutes later heading past Cox at a corner.
With the score stuck at 3-2, both sides went all-out for the three points but there was to be no more goals in Berkhamsted, though not for want of trying.
The win is Watford’s second in three matches since the restart. Katie Rowson’s Golden Girls hard work over the mid-season break is paying off, while their opponents are now without a win in the last five in all competitions.