Villa Ladies report: Doncaster Belles win season-opener
Villa Ladies started life in the Women's Super League 2 with a 2-0 loss at home to Doncaster Rovers Belles.
Bethany England put the visitors ahead in the first-half, before a late penalty from Sue Smith ensured all three points.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors when former England ace Smith played in Mille Bright but her shot was too tame for Villa keeper Catlin Leach.
Villa's first chance came moments later when a sloppy pass from Belles found Sarah Mayling but her shot didn't have the necessary zest to test Nicola Hobbs in goal.
Belles should have scored on nine minutes when Jess Sigsworth broke forward and squared to Smith.
But her shot was blocked by covering defender Elisha N'Dow.
However, it wasn't long before Belles opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Sigsworth broke and England beat Leach to open the scoring.
Most of the chances in the first half fell to the visitors although Villa did have a couple of opportunities to pull level.
Belles, however, could have doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time but the livewire Sigsworth blazed over Leach's goal to send the two teams into the break at 1-0 to the visitors.
Villa showed more pace and grace after the break and were unlucky not to get something from the contest.
The first chance of an equaliser came from Chloe Jones tried her luck from 35-yards out - but it was an easy take for the keeper.
Belles hit the woodwork on 56 minutes when a Mille Bright header hit the bar from Lyndsey Cunningham's cross.
Jade Richards was unlucky for the hosts soon after but her spectacular overhead kick flew wide of the goal from a pinpoint Jones free-kick on 63 minutes.
Sub Carly Davies gave the hosts a real threat when she came on in the second half.
And she had probably the best chance for Villa Ladies when she found herself in open space but her turn and shot brought about a fine save.
There's no question Belles keeper Hobbs was being made to work for her clean sheet, particularly when she was forced into a fine save from Sarah Mayling.
Smith could have wrapped up the points for Belles as she broke but Leach, excellent in goal for the hosts, was equal to her shot from 15 yards out.
However, the victory was eventually confirmed with four minutes to go when Bright was brought down in the box and Smith converted superbly - despite Leach going the right way.
Villa Ladies still refused to lie down and Robinson tried a long-range effort but Hobbs tipped it over the bar.
That was the final act of the game but boss Ron Mellor will have been heartened by the second half display.
Villa Ladies: Leach, N'Dow [Davies], Petrovic (c), Richards, Walker, McCue, Stringer [Robinson], Cusack, Fergusson [Merrick], Mayling, Jones. Subs not used: Parker, Moran.
Doncaster Belles: Hobbs, Cresswell, Roberts, Little (c), Cunningham, Lipka, Bright, England [Mills], Smith, Thomas, Sigsworth. Subs not used: Govier, Williams, Johnson E, Johnson M.