Bristol City Women 2 Aston Villa Women 1
Women’s Super League wrestlers Bristol City gave their campaign a major boost by producing their best performance of the season to beat Aston Villa to reach the League Cup semi-finals.
Two breakaway goals by lone striker Ebony Salmon against his former club were enough to send the women’s Super League bottom team to the last four for the first time since 2012, when they were known as Bristol Academy .
Tanya Oxtoby’s side are winless in the league this season, with two draws and eight of their 10 WSL games, and were convincingly beaten 4-0 at home to Aston Villa when the two sides met on the same ground a little over a month earlier.
But City’s League Cup form has been excellent, having dominated their group with three of three wins, and they were resolved against Villa on Wednesday night, despite the absence of three key first-team players.
Midfielder Carla Humphrey and goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley both tested positive for Covid-19, while Jemma Purfield also entered 10 days of isolation after coming in close contact with the pair.
Substituting Baggaley in goal, Norwegian striker Benedicte Haaland was in top form and brilliantly managed to prevent Diana Silva from playing for the first time at six meters. On the other end, Villa keeper Sian Rogers did well to return Salmon’s low shot to keep the game scoreless at half-time.
After the break, there was nothing Rogers could do against Salmon’s two quick-fire goals, both of which came during the counterattack. First, the former Villa and Manchester United youngster cut inside Anita Asante and bent a left-footed finish at home, before the 19-year-old used her pace to escape again, take the ball confidently around Rogers and kick in his seconds seconds later.
Villa, who created the best of luck, has been thwarted several times by defensive blocks in the Bristol City area, while Rogers did well to deny Salmon his hat trick on the other end.
Villa pushed forward and Danish striker Stine Larsen – as a substitute – gave them hope with a well-placed header on the downside, halving the deficit with four minutes remaining. But the hosts not only kept their cup dream alive, but also gave their attempt to avoid relegation a much-needed morale boost.
Crystal Palace will host Leicester City in an all-league competition on Thursday, in the second in the quarter-finals, before the Chelsea holder travel to Manchester City next Wednesday and West Ham United host Durham on Thursday.
Bristol City (4-1-4-1): Haaland; Bryson, Rafferty (Jones, 77), Evans, Allen; Palmer (Layzell, 85); Daniels, Wellings, Logarzo, Bissell; Salmon.
Subs not used: Collis, Harrison, Layzell, Mastrantonio, Jones.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Rogers; Ale, N’Dow, Asante, Siems; Petzelberger, Arthur, Ewers (Iwabuchi, 73), Syme (Hanssen, 73); Silva (Follis 67), Hayles (Larsen 67).
Subs not used: Weiss, West, Haigh, McLoughlin, Haywood.
Arbitrator: Robert Massey-Ellis (West Midlands).