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Continental Cup second round keeps things interesting

Not always the easiest competition to second tier sides to navigate their way through, the second round of the WSL league cup was again an unhappy stomping ground for Championship teams who clashed with WSL counterparts.

Group A

Two teams vying for promotion, Aston Villa looked the stronger side when they welcomed the Blades to Boldmere St. Michaels on Saturday night, despite having rested some of their starters. Two goals to the good at the break curtesy of Jade Richards and Emily Syme, the Villainesses extended their lead after the break when Shania Hayles found the space to slam one home from inside the box. With Jade Pennock moving centrally, the injury-hit Blades finally found their footing and instantly pulled a goal back, the tricky winger also able to win a late penalty for her team. Despite going down to ten as Richards was shown a straight red for the challenge, young ‘keeper Daniela Kosińska did well to deny Pennock and stop any late panic.

Having surprisingly dropped three points to Rovers in the league last weekend, Durham looked to have a bogey team on their hands when Saffron Jordan cancelled out Kathryn Hill’s early strike. However, with the Wildcats piling on the pressure, Becky Salicki finally broke the parity late in the day before Beth Hepple added a third for good measure.

After a frantic start that saw three goals fly in in the first eight minutes as Niamh Charles gave the visiors an early lead before Kirsty Linnett added a second for Liverpool and Rosie Axten pulled one back for Coventry United, it was a one way street for the Reds. Linnett claimed a further two before Jess Clarke added one late, things having gone from bad to worse for the hosts as Becky Anderson was shown a straight red for her lunge on Clarke.

Group B

Having had a particularly gruelling run of fixtures, Charlton Athletic went into their clash with Arsenal the firm underdogs and just like in the second tier, came away with little to show for their endeavours. After Jennifer Beattie’s opener, Daniëlle van de Donk scored on either side of a sublime Beth Mead curler to give the Gunners a routine win.

Like Durham and Arsenal, Bristol City kept their 100% record in tact with a win away to Brighton. Taking the lead though Abi Harrison less than ten minutes in, the Robins extended their advantage when Ebony Salmon struck in first half stoppage time. Cruising to a win, the visitors were given a scare late in the second half when Kayleigh Green fired one in for the Seagulls from the spot, but Brighton couldn’t find a second.

In a less than rosy patch having parted ways with their manager earlier in the week, the London City Lionesses were dealt a shock when the team they’d convincingly beat 2-0 earlier in the season, hit them for three. Following Bonnie Horwood’s opener and Merrick Will’s header, Lauren Pickett capped off the scoring to leave LCL with one win in their last four in all competitions.

Group C

In the smallest of the four groups, Birmingham banished their deamons with a comprehensive 5-1 win away to Leicester City. With braces from Rachel Williams and Lucy Staniforth as well as a lone debut goal for Adrienne Jordan, the Blues made sure Lachante Paul’s goal was purely consolatory at Quorn FC.

Given top billing, the second Manchester derby saw plenty of drama as the hosts took at early lead through an inch perfect Katie Zelem free kick before Jess Sigsworth finished off a team move with an unbelievable flourish. Looking dead on their feet after Champions League action in the midweek, and with a mounting injury crisis, City’s misery was compounded after Kiera Walsh was shown a straight red taking her out of contention for their clash with Arsenal next weekend.

Group D

Back in London, both Chelsea and Reading kept their perfect starts to the competition as first Chelsea wore down a stubborn Crystal Palace side that had kept them out for the first 45 minutes. Beth England’s quick second half brace had the Eagles on their backs before Drew Spence added a late third.

In Berkshire, Reading took an early lead through Fara Williams before the Rookettes hit them for two through Emily Donovan and Ellie Noble to go in at the break a goal down. Despite strong work from Lewes, the England record cap holder fired an equaliser in from over 30-yards before heading home the winner in stoppage time.

In the last match of the day, there was also late drama after Rianna Dean and Josie Green had looked to give Spurs all three points, Martha Thomas fired in in stoppage time before Kenza Dali scored with a superb free kick with the last kick of the game to take the match to penalties. With the advantage from the off after Gilly Flaherty had put her spot kick over the bar, both Chloe Morgan and Anna Moorhouse came up trumps to deny Adriana Leon and Kit Graham respectively leaving Rachel Furness to put home the winner for a bonus point.

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