Villa Ladies 0-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles: Ladies lose cup clash
It was a close-fought encounter with the Villa side showing encouraging signs ahead of their forthcoming debut in the Women's Super League.
Emily Owen was outstanding on her competitive debut for the claret and blues and she snuffed out the threat of England U20 international Jess Sigworth.
But the game turned on 50 minutes when the visitors won a penalty following a challenge by Owen on the experienced Sue Smith.
Victoria Williams stepped up to fire Doncaster into the lead.
Within 10 minutes it was 2-0, as Bethany England met Smith's cross and turned before slotting home.
The introduction of teen sensation Sarah Mayling spurred the home team into life.
Mayling herself had two chances which were saved smartly by the goalkeeper.
A Villa corner was hacked off the line and then a goalmouth scramble was somehow cleared by the desperate Doncaster defence.
Substitute Bethan Merrick cut in from the left and hit a stinging 25 yards drive towards the top corner but the brilliant Nicola Hobbs tipped it around the post for a corner.
With Villa pushing to get back into the game, Doncaster managed to spring a counter-attack and the referee pointed to the spot for a second time after Chloe Jones clipped Smith.
However, the resulting penalty crashed off the crossbar. "
I am disappointed with the result," said manager Ron Mellor.
"A decent cup run would have raised the club's profile and that would have been good for everyone.
"Despite a difficult draw for our initial venture, like the men's team who played West Ham, we were well placed at half time to take the initiative and push on after the interval.
"We had matched Doncaster with some resolute defending, attractive football in parts and certainly in determination and work rate.
"In the cold light of day Aston Villa Ladies played well, especially when there were eight teenagers in the team.
"To compete and compete well with an experienced and until recently a Super League 1 side is very encouraging.
"We must work hard and improve as we play further Super League 1 sides in friendly matches, then the real Super League 2 season begins in April."
VILLA: Leach, Vaughan, Clarke, McCue (Merrick 70), Petrovic, Owen, Follis, Stringer, Jones, Cusack, Fergusson (Mayling 51). Unused subs: Baker, Cooper, Walker.
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