Villa Ladies win League Cup in dramatic penalty shoot-out
The showpiece final, played in glorious sunshine at York City's Bootham Crescent, ended goalless after 120 minutes of fierce and competitive action.
There weren't many chances in the first half for either side but Emma Follis and Maddy Cusack blended pace and power beautifully in the lions line-up.
It was more of the same in the second half and into extra-time as the tight, tense and cagey affair brought no goals from open play.
So it came down to spot-kicks, with Megan Walsh proving her worth between the posts with a save from the fifth and final opposition penalty before Carly Davies struck home the winner to much delight in the claret and blue camp.
Boss Joe Hunt said: "I'm immensely proud of my team. It's not just the fourteen who played, either, but all twenty-one players who have contributed to the cup run.
"They showed tremendous courage and desire to win this huge game. They never lay down and always fought hard for this great club.
"We defended really well and the team, as a whole, were totally committed to the gameplan.
"In the first-half we got Emma and Kelly on the ball and they flew past the full-backs but we lacked the final ball or other players getting in to support them quickly enough.
"Maddy was outstanding too. She has so much running power and a youthful exuberance that rubs off on the whole team.
"She is very direct with her running which other teams don't like.
"We threw Sherry McCue on in the second-half also and she showed what a class player she is.
"The girl has it all as a central midfielder. She is aggressive, technically sound and can spot a pass too.
"I've got to give credit to Leeds Ladies. They are a very good team.
"They are still pushing for the league title and good luck to them in that quest.
"We've had three games against them this season and haven't lost one.
"We're making some serious progress with the squad of players. We've got a nice mix of ages and with time we'll get even better.
"Finally, I have to give credit to my backroom staff. Karl Fellows, our first-team coach, and Nat Courtney, our assistant manager, and Ant Bosson, our sports therapist, who have contributed to this success.
"Ant and his medical team have worked tirelessly over the last two weeks to get the players fit for the final.
"Dani, Carly, Kelly, Shez, Megan and Aoife all responded well to treatment and gave me the selection headache I needed."
Villa Ladies: Walsh, Vaughan, Mannion, Merritt, Petrovic, Richards, Follis (Fergusson 75), Moran (McCue 55), Jones, Cusack (Davies 100), Clarke. Subs not used: Stringer, Cooper.
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