By Paul Brown
Villa Ladies made it four wins in four games as they saw off Barnet Ladies in an immensely fiery encounter at Underhill.
Dani Petrovic and Katie Wilkinson bagged the goals as Villa Ladies earned a 2-0 victory in a game which saw Barnet Ladies finish with just eight players following three red cards.
The result also helped Villa Ladies to joint second in the National Division. They are just four points behind leaders Sunderland Ladies, although the north-east side do have two games in hand.
Barnet Ladies started the game in ferocious style, slamming into some fierce challenges.
In fact, after 24 minutes, Bethan Merrick had to be replaced by Emma Follis after she was on the receiving end of a hard tackle.
But the home side grew more and more frustrated at their lack of bite in the final third, Villa Ladies back four standing strong with the disciplined Tash Merritt working wonders as the holding midfielder.
Barnet Ladies did win a succession of free-kicks and corners but they were cleared superbly by the central defensive pair of Petrovic and Richards.
Sub Follis was a constant thorn in the side of Barnet Ladies as she scampered forward from the wing at every available opportunity.
Five minutes before half-time she went on another of her mazy runs before cutting inside and firing goalwards. Heroic defending by the home side saw them clear the danger.
Villa dominated the game after the restart.
Wilkinson started to drop deeper to receive the ball which allowed England U19 international Sherry McCue to get higher up the pitch to cause havoc.
The breakthrough came on 53 minutes. The unplayable Follis was crudely fouled 35 yards out. The inswinging set-piece from Kelly Clarke was powerfully met by skipper Petrovic whose header arrowed into the top corner.
Villa Ladies put the game to bed 10 minutes later when Wilkinson converted a spot-kick after Clarke had been upended in the box.
For the rest of the game Villa controlled proceedings, moving it around the huge pitch and frustrating the home side.
It all got too much for Barnet Ladies, with two of their players dismissed for violent conduct after a melee involving goalscorer Wilkinson, who was also booked.
Then it went from bad to worse for the home side as another player was red carded for a terrible tackle on the onrushing Merritt.
Joe Hunt said: "We knew Barnet Ladies were going to be physical but some of the treatment my players received was horrendous.
"I'm really proud of my team for not reacting to any of it and to their credit trying to play the game in the right way.
"The first half was always going to be tough as we were defending the slope but once we got to half-time we knew our quality would shine through.
"Beth was unlucky to be on the receiving end of a bad tackle, We are very fortunate to be able to replace quality players like for like.
"Emma came on and was unbelievable. Quick, direct, skilful. She was class. Her and Clarkey were quality down the sides and again Katie was on top form.
"The team deserve credit for a good away win but I must mention our captain Dani. She was massive for us.
"We deliberately went with four ladies across the back who have all experienced playing centre-back.
"They headed everything clear time and time again but Dani was immense.
"She scored the goal but also controlled our girls when it was getting fiery out there. Pet is a proper captain. We are very lucky to have her."
Villa: Courtney, Vaughan, Mannion, Merritt, Petrovic, Richards, Merrick (Follis 24), Cusack (Moran 60), Wilkinson, McCue (Stringer 75), Clarke. Subs not used - Davies, Lowe.