- Albion through to round five of the Women’s FA Cup
- Ini Umotong (penalty), Amanda Nilden and Aileen Whelan on target
- Mel Johnson and Shania Hayles score for Villa
- Maxime Bennink comes off the bench to make her debut
In what was a potential banana skin against the Women’s Championship leaders, Ini Umotong’s penalty and a goal each from Amanda Nilden and Aileen Whelan was ultimately the difference to overcome a dogged Villa side.
The Albion manager made seven changes to the side that lost 2-1 at West Ham United a week ago with Danique Kerkdijk, Megan Connolly, Kate Natkiel and Whelan the only players to retain their places in the team.
It was a youthful looking back four that faced the Villans, as 20-year-old Beth Roe was introduced to make her first start of the season, while 17-year-old Maya Le Tissier partnered Kerkdijk in the heart of defence.
Hope Powell spoke about the magic of the FA Cup and avoiding a potential upset in her pre-match press conference, and she saw her side gifted a chance to break the deadlock when Umotong was brought down inside the box.
The Nigeria international was coolness personified from the subsequent spot-kick, and sent Sian Rogers the wrong way to give Albion the lead with 12 minutes played.
Albion’s joy was short lived though, as the hosts restored parity to the scoreline just two minutes later when Mel Johnson bundled the ball over the line from a corner.
The game was almost turned on its head moments later after Shania Hayles was played through on goal and Cecilie Fiskerstrand was out quickly to thwart the Villa forward.
But Powell’s side struck next though through Nilden in a goal instigated by Matilde Lundorf down the right-hand side. The Dane’s cross was met by Roe, whose shot forced a save from Rogers before Nilden slid in the rebound.
Roe was involved in the thick of the action again for Albion’s third goal after she saw her cross-shot clawed away at the near post, and Whelan lofted the loose ball into an empty net.
There were further chances for both Roe and Umotong as the half drew to a close, as Powell’s team entered the break in firm control of the tie.
Half-time saw the introduction of Maxime Bennink for her Albion debut to replace Natkiel on the right-hand side of a three-player forward line.
Albion looked to put the game to bed and Nilden nearly did that just shy of the hour mark following some good link-up play involving Simpkins and Umotong down the right flank, but the Swede couldn’t make a connection with the ball at the far post.
Republic of Ireland international Connolly then looked to get in on the act with a curling left-footed strike that sailed just past the far post.
The final 20 minutes were anything but plain sailing for Albion, and the hosts looked increasingly threatening as the half wore on.
The Championship side refused to lie down, and set up a nervy final ten minutes when Hayles raced through on goal and coolly lobbed Fiskestrand to make in 3-2.
Powell’s team had to sustain a flurry of late Villa pressure to prevent the contest from going to extra time, but held on to claim a morale-boosting win and a place into tomorrow’s fifth round draw.
ALBION: Fiskerstrand; Lundorf, Kerkdijk, Le Tissier, Roe (Gibbons 68); Simpkins, Connolly, Natkiel (Bennink 46); Whelan (Green 81), Umotong, Nilden.
SUBS NOT USED: Walsh (GK), Williams, Barton.