Bethany England enhances call-up claims while Durham cause FA Cup upset

Bethany England enhances call-up claims while Durham cause FA Cup upset

Bad week for…

Bristol City, the only top-tier team to be undone by a club from the Championship this weekend.

The Bristol City manager, Tanya Oxtoby, pulled few punches in a post-match assessment that began with the words “players need to really have a good, hard look at themselves about what standards we set for ourselves.”

More concerning, though, was Sarah Robson’s high boot on City’s Lucy Graham, the one blot on Durham’s otherwise excellent performance, that saw Graham leave the field after ten minutes: her afternoon consisted of five minutes of play and five minutes of medical treatment. That Robson was never cautioned – City only won the free-kick – raises further troubling questions given the FA have admitted on several occasions that referees in the women’s game are too reluctant to punish excessive force challenges.

“I’m really frustrated at that,” Oxtoby added. “It was a really poor challenge and there wasn’t even a card – Lucy’s had to go to hospital to check that her eye’s OK. There’s no place for that in our game and we just hope there’s no long-term damage.”

Performance of the week

It is rare to see a tweet age as badly as the gem Aston Villa Ladies’ social media team blessed us with at 5:11pm. “That looks to be it,” they said of their FA Cup fifth round game against Sheffield United. “Rayner sends a fantastic driven effort into the far corner.  Villa 1-3 Sheffield United.”

At 2-0 down on 71 minutes, a defeat looked a foregone conclusion and the assembled press were probably polishing the conclusions on match reports that, surely, would not be changing now. What no one banked on, though, was Jodie Hutton, the player who had pulled one back for the hosts on 72 minutes, converting a penalty three minutes from time and then forcing extra-time with the final kick of the game.

United struck the bar in a taut final 15 minutes but fittingly it was Hutton who scored the decisive spot kick in the shootout and secured Villa’s place among the last eight in the Women’s FA Cup. They are now the lowest-ranked side remaining in the competition and have surely earned a test against one of the five Super League sides in the hat for the next round.

Hutton, despite only turning 18 this month, is the homegrown jewel in their crown, and her role in this remarkable feat of escapology only reinforced this.

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