Villa Ladies 2-1 Oxford Women: Wilkinson brace earns win
Katie Wilkinson was back with a bang as her double earned Villa Ladies a 2-1 win over Oxford United Ladies.
Wilkinson scored her first goals since returning to the club on loan from Birmingham City Ladies - and head coach Joe Hunt believes she will only get better in the coming weeks.
The strong forward showed all assets of her game - skill, power and finesse - and her presence in claret and blue is certainly proving to be a positive sight for staff, players and fans.
Emma Follis also deserves special mention after creating the winner moments after coming on a second half sub - and Elisha N'Dow who played in the unfamiliar centre midfield role after the break following an injury to scheming Katy Moran.
Wilkinson certainly began brightly as she tried her luck from 30 yards on five minutes but Demi Lambourne produced a fine stop.
Then the hosts went even closer three minutes later as Olivia Fergusson fled down the right before firing a shot against the crossbar.
Laursen Allison was unlucky for the visitors a minute later when she fired over the bar after a good cross into the claret and blue box.
Maddy Cusack was in the book on 11 minutes after a rash tackle close to the touchline - there was certainly no malice just overexuberance to win the ball.
Villa Ladies went ahead on 22 minutes as Maisie Baker, showing plenty of creativity down the right, flashed a ball into the box, Wilkinson producing a fine header at the back post.
That certainly prompted a response from the visitors and, after a fizzing corner evaded everyone in yellow on 26 minutes, they were level two minutes later.
Set-piece specialist Jemma Connor-Iommi fired a free-kick into the wall from 30 yards and then produced a fine finish with the rebound.
The hosts had the only other chance before the break - and it should have given them the lead.
There was a great flowing move in the central ground and the ball was slipped through to Fergusson but her first touch was too heavy and the chance was gone.
The second half began first just like the first half did, as Wilkinson let fly, this time the ball flying over the bar on 46 minutes.
It was the same story on 52 minutes as the returning forward fired high and wide with a drive from 20 yards.
Alicia Robinson made her entrance on 55 minutes, replacing Fergusson while there was another change on 60 minutes, N'Dow coming on for the limping Moran.
That gave the midfield a different feel to it - Robinson and N'Dow joining Cusack in the central ground - and the trio thrived in the final half-hour, showing tenacity and talent in abundance.
The vital change, however, came on 65 minutes as Follis replaced Carly Davies - and her impact couldn't have been more immediate.
With virtually her first touch, the wing wizard flew down the left before producing a highly-intelligent ball back across the box.
Wilkinson controlled before finishing expertly to keeper Lambourne's right. Follis could - and should - have made the final score more comfortable.
First she had a heavy first touch after being played through by Mayling on 76 minutes while on 90 minutes she was played in brilliantly by Wilkinson but her final shot was cleared off the line.
Nevertheless, it was more of the winning feeling on the final whistle for the delighted hosts.
Villa Ladies: Courtney, Baker, Jones, Moran [N'Dow 60], Petrovic, Richards, Fergusson [Robinson 55], Cusack BOOKED, Wilkinson, Mayling, Davies [Follis 65]. Subs: Walker, Beattie, Harper, Baptiste.