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Aston Villa Ladies use strong first half to defeat Watford in Spring Series opener

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The Villa women are off to a great start in the 2017 WSL2 Spring Series.

Beth Merrick in WSL 2 Spring Series action against Watford, 12 February 2017.
Courtesy of Aston Villa

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Aston Villa got out to a blistering start in their match today. Three goals before the 50th minute, and the match was in hand. With, basically, the first half out of the way it was time to sit back and relax and panic all of the fans in attendance. Eventually, Watford were able to claw back into the match with goals in the 67th and 89th minute. Sound familiar?

Okay, perhaps it’s a bit unfair to compare the Aston Villa women to the men. There were a few key differences in the two squads. First, and most importantly, the women hung on to win their WSL 2 Spring Series opener 3-2 in front of nearly 300 fans at The Lamb out in Tamworth. The second major difference was the fact that Aston Villa scored three goals (can you imagine?).

And finally, Watford never looked like threatening all three points for Aston Villa. The last goal came from a Watford corner that Villa keeper Chloe Beattie wasn’t able to punch away.

Aston Villa’s first goal came from a 22nd-minute Beth Merrick corner that was sent to the back of the net by Tash Baptiste. Merrick herself was able to double the total in the 38th minute, and Jade Richards found the back of the net two minutes into the second half to get the eventual winning goal.

Watford’s spirited showing was quite the turnaround from November, when Villa beat Watford 4-0 at Villa Park. Under new manager Keith Boanas, who most recently spent a seven-year spell with the Estonian Women’s team, the Hornets showed a fight that they didn’t have at all in last year’s WSL 2 season.

The Birmingham Mail’s Molly Jennens compiled player ratings for today’s match, which you can find right here. After the match, Baptiste expressed a bit of frustration at the way Watford were able to fight back into the match:

Villa will take the pitch again next Sunday for the fourth round of the FA Cup. They’ll be at Coventry United, with a time and location to be announced.