Coventry Ladies 1-3 Villa Ladies: Merrick, Wilkinson, Merritt on target
Villa Ladies produced an attacking masterclass to see off Coventry Ladies.
After falling 3-1 to the same team the previous weekend on home soil, Joe Hunt's side turned the tables with a brilliant performance in Bedworth.
Villa made a promising start to the game, controlling the tempo and trying to get star player Wilkinson on the ball as much as possible.
The first real chance fell to Villa on 20 mins when Merrick squared the ball to Wilkinson who bent her effort up and over the bar from 18 yards.
Minutes later the impressive Merrick unleashed a rocket with the outside of her right foot that swerved round the keeper, only to crash back off the post.
Just before the interval Kelly Clarke went through one on one but keeper Helen Wood denied the flying winger.
There was still time for Coventry to win a corner that was half cleared by Villa only for Jenni Lowe to bring down Helen Dermody for a penalty.
Dermody dusted herself down to dispatch the spot-kick into the roof of the net past Megan Walsh.
After the interval, Villa came flying out the blocks, clearly annoyed at being a goal down.
The girls in claret and blue pressed higher and didn't allow Coventry any easy possession.
Within 60 seconds Clarke found herself one on one with the keeper only to be denied by the impressive Wood.
Two minutes later the score was level, Merrick scoring her first senior goal with a beautiful 30 yard lob with her left foot after the Villa frontline had pressured the Sky Blues defence.
This gave Villa the belief to go after Coventry with their high-pressing game, getting Clarke, Wilkinson and Merrick on the ball.
Maddy Cusack was the driving force in midfield, working tirelessly with Abbeyleigh Stinger and Merritt.
Villa's tails were up and missed two great opportunities to take the lead. Wilkinson missed from close range from a corner as did Merritt.
But on 72 minutes Villa were 2-1 up after a close-range strike from Wilkinson.
A floated corner from Vaughan was met by the impressive Merritt whose bullet header was parried by Wood only for Wilkinson to sweep home.
Even at 2-1 Villa Ladies kept pressing.
Another fine piece of wing play from Clarke won a corner which was half cleared to the edge of the box where Merritt unleashed an unstoppable volley into the bottom corner.
Boss Joe Hunt said: "Villa Ladies have been focused all week in training even though we were short on numbers with six players away with England U19s.
"I made two changes to the team, hoping Katie would control the game for us in the attacking third.
"She is a physically strong girl with great technical ability and has the vision to bring people in to play.
"She was frightening, always a threat to the Coventry backline. She deserved her goal but has shown great desire over the last few weeks to get fit and be able to play ninety minutes.
"Her England call up gave her a lift which showed.
"At half-time we were not happy to be a goal down. We were not close enough to Coventry for the last 20 minutes of the first-half.
"But the second-half was all Villa. Right from the whistle we had a better tempo and desire to win the ball back higher.
"Credit to the girls, we took our goals well but should've had at least another three.
"Bethan deserves a mention. She scored her first senior goal, an unbelievable one from 30 yards.
"Overall I'm pleased but now we need to put a run of positive results together, starting at home to Man City next week."
Villa: Walsh, Vaughan, Lowe (Mannion 80), Merritt, Petrovic, Richards, Merrick (Davies 70), Stringer (McCue 67), Wilkinson. Cusack, Clarke. Subs not used Cooper, Follis.
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