Villa Ladies: Impressive draw with Champions League Bristol
Villa Ladies put on a fine display on home soil to hold Champions League side Bristol Academy to a 1-1 draw in the latest pre-season fixture.
Skilful midfielder Alicia Robinson scored within five minutes of her debut but the visitors hit back eight minutes later.
Robinson's goal came following a fast start from the hosts as they put pressure on the WSL1 runners-up.
Sarah Mayling [pictured above] put pressure on left-back Corinne Yorston, whose misplaced pass was picked up by Robinson 25 yards from goal.
She took a touch out of her feet before unleashing a fierce drive into the bottom corner.
Bristol came charging back after the opener - showing their class in the process - but returning stopper Jade Richards was in fine form.
But the visitors weren't to be outdone and levelled when an inswinging corner beat everyone and nestled in the net.
The remainder of the half was a midfield battle, both sides playing some nice football only to be stopped by strong defending.
It was the home side though that had the best chance before the interval.
Again Robinson was involved, dropping deep to pick the ball up and releasing Chloe Jones with a majestic pass.
The former Liverpool star was through one-on-one with the keeper, only to have a heavy touch at the vital moment.
The second half saw a raft of changes from the home, with Carly Davies, Lauren Walker, Emma Follis and Livy Fergusson all introduced.
This did not disrupt the flow of the game, however, Mayling tucking inside to the midfield three and linking well with Davies and Robinson.
Bristol had the better of the chances after the break, only to be denied by new No.1 Caitlin Leach [pictured above], who has replaced the departed Megan Walsh between the posts.
Head Coach Joe Hunt said: "Slowly but surely we are making progress in our pre-season games.
"We've introduced some new players into the squad who are integrating very well.
"This was the best we've played against a very strong, organised Bristol team.
"At times we played some lovely football - in the right areas - and didn't get caught in possession.
"I'm delighted that Jade Richards got over 60 minutes and she was impressive. It's nice to have her back in the team, she makes us a stronger squad.
"Alicia Robinson was top-quality. Her goal was pure class."
Hunt revealed centre-half Emily Owen came off in the first period and now the head coach is awaiting test results.
Villa face Notts County at home on Sunday - with Maddy Cusack available again after she was handed a break away.
Villa Ladies First Half: Leach, Vaughan, Clarke, Moran, Owen (Petrovic 15), Richards, Mayling, Stringer, Jones, Robinson, Merrick.
Villa Ladies Second Half: Leach, Vaughan, Walker, Moran (Jones 60), Petrovic, Richards (Stringer 60), Mayling, Robinson (Merrick 75), Davies, Fergusson, Follis.
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