United Women lose in Continental CupUnited went down to a Carly Davies penalty as they were beaten 1-0 at Aston Villa to finish bottom of Group 3 in the Continental Cup. The U's looked disjointed throughout the first half, but despite improving considerably after falling behind they were unable to claim a result in their final match in the competition.
With Rosie Lane and Lauren Allison both missing out due to injury, in addition to absentees Sahara Osborne-Ricketts (hamstring) and Megan Alexander (cup-tied), manager Les Taylor handed starts to teenagers Chloe Bruce and Ella Franklin-Fraiture. Louise Fellows led the line, while stand-in captain Kat Nutman took up a role in the centre of defence.
Both sides were looking to make the most of their final chance to earn their first points in the Continental Cup, but it was the hosts who looked the most likely in the first half. Dani Petrovic and Jade Richards both went close with headed efforts as Villa caused the U's defence plenty of problems from set-pieces.
Goalkeeper Demi Lambourne was called on twice in quick succession to keep out tricky winger Olivia Ferguson with Bethan Merrick smashing a thunderous shot off the post on the rebound.
Laura Low provided the greatest goal threat for United, latching onto an excellent through-ball to get the wrong side of the defence, only to see Villa keeper Caitlin Leach smother at her feet after a poor touch had taken the ball away from her. Low was again foiled by Leach right on the stroke of half-time, twisting through the home side's defence before the Villa stopper threw herself in front of her effort.
It didn't take long after the resumption of play for the hosts to break the deadlock, Carly Davies slotting home a penalty after Chloe Bruce had tripped Bethan Merrick in the area.
United improved after falling behind but despite enjoying much more possession and territory they were unable to create any clear-cut chances. Jemma Connor-Iommi shot narrowly wide with an ambitious 30-yard free-kick and Nutman went close with a header shortly before the end, but their efforts ultimately came to nothing.
United: Lambourne, Hines, Chivers, Stanley, Low, King, Nutman, Connor-Iommi, Fellows (Oliver 85), Bruce (Mobbs 70), Franklin-Fraiture (Pinker 76). Subs not used: Coles, Pickett.