Villa Ladies 1-1 Leeds Ladies: Moran on target in draw
Villa Ladies and Leeds Ladies warmed up for their League Cup final clash with a 1-1 draw.
Both teams face each other on May 5 in the showpiece event so this was a dress-rehearsal for that intriguing contest.
And this brilliantly exciting encounter showed it is anyone's to win next weekend when the sides meet at York City.
Villa Ladies went in at the break one-up, although they had their defensive unit to thank for the interval shut-out.
Leeds Ladies shaded the possession and corner-count but they were kept at bay by the brilliant backline, marshalled by the impressive Jade Richards.
Villa Ladies were very threatening on the break at the other end and they got their breakthrough four minutes from the break.
Bethan Merrick curled in a wonderful free-kick from the left and versatile ace Katy Moran rose highest to bullet the header home past the helpless goalkeeper.
As would be expected, Leeds Ladies came flying out the blocks in the second half and put the home side under some real pressure.
Villa's excellent back four dealt with it extremely well but were undone by lucky goal - a mishit cross that looped over Megan Walsh and into the net.
This setback saw a positive reaction on the home team, who then laid siege to the opposition goal.
On numerous occasions Emma Follis, Livy Fergusson and Maddy Cusack burst past the backline and caused havoc in their half.
Villa Ladies could have won it near the end.
Skipper-for-the-day Chloe Jones latched on to a floated free-kick but her vicious left foot volley flew just wide.
Boss Joe Hunt said: "This was a well-deserved point for my team. We put a lot of hard work into that performance.
"What I like about us at the moment is our intensity. When it's high like that, we play well.
"We pressed the ball in the right areas and played to our strengths.
"In the attacking third we were a constant threat - Chloe Jones, Beth Merrick and Livy Fergusson were always in the game and then I had Emma Follis coming from the bench to join in.
"Tash Merritt came back into the team and was superb. She knits the team together, defending in front of the back four and then releasing our forwards when the time is right.
"As I've said all season I'm fortunate to have such a good squad. We have players that can play in numerous positions.
"Take Katy Moran, the last two weeks she's been asked to play centre-back in place of the rested Dani Petrovic and I've got to say she's been fantastic.
"She put her body on the line and is impressive in the contact areas.
"She was rock solid in her defending, scored a great header and could've had two more."
VILLA LADIES: Walsh, Mannion, Lowe (Vaughan), Merritt, Moran, Richards, Fergusson, Stringer, Jones, Cusack, Merrick (Follis). Subs not used: Cooper, Crackle, McCue.