After a near 5 month lay off (barring one week) the ladies returned to Football action in their rearranged First Round Tie in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup away to Kent Football United, two days after coming out various lockdowns / Tier changes.
As a result of the long lay, a full squad of 19 players were taken for the evening kick off which was streamed live to a near 1000 audience.
The ladies started the game with good intensity and having the majority of the possession without creating any clear cut chances when a loose pass on the half way line was cut out by the Kent Number 9 who ran with the ball unchallenged and unleashed a rocket from 25 yards into the top corner after 12 minutes.
The ladies tried in vain to get an equaliser before half time again having most of the possession, but struggling to break down a determined Kent defence and went into the half time break 1-0 down.
A half time change gave the ladies a spark and they started the second half very well. Once again the ladies were well on top having majority of the possession. Claire Huggins and Courtney Cook were now causing the Kent full backs plenty of problems and pushing the hosts into a very low block. After 55 minutes an Amy Cooper header from a corner hit the post and an equaliser was surely not far away.
On 58 minutes, the ladies finally made the breakthrough and equalised through Amy Makewell, pouncing to stab home a shot from Beau Parker which cannoned off the cross bar. 1-1 and game on.
The ladies were well on top and looking for the winner as Kent seemed happy to defend very deep and try and hit them on the break with a counter attack with the threatening number 9, but to be fair the ladies they defended the counter very well.
After 90 minutes the game was still level and the game went into 30 minutes extra time. The game remained deadlocked and the dreaded penalty shootout followed for a place into the second round away to Chichester Ladies.
Unfortunately, for the ladies we crashed out 4-3 and the FA Cup run had sadly come to an end.
Manager Billy Highton said “I honestly could not have asked anymore of the ladies, other than another goal ! I thought their work rate for 120 minutes after so long out was outstanding and penalties is a lottery and a horrible way to go out. We have come a long way as a football club and we now look forward to getting back training and getting ready for next season”
Next up for the ladies is a quarter final cup tie at home to Charlton Athletic U21s.