REDDITCH United Women held their nerve to see off legendary women’s football outfit Doncaster Belles on penalties to progress into the third qualifying round of the FA Cup.
There was a real buzz around the Trico for this game and both set of fans turned up the volume as the teams took to the field for the Vitality Women’s FA Cup second qualifying round encounter.
By full-time after the 1-1 draw and spot-kick drama, the excitement was even greater as the Reds celebrated a superb victory over their FA Women’s National League Division One Midlands visitors – who play a level above Tom Blaymires’ team.
The hosts took the game to their illustrious national league opponents from the outset and both sides moved the ball impressively as chances were created at both ends.
For the Reds, the attacking line-up of the Ross twins, Bailey, Price and Newman were causing the Belles problems at the back, whilst the home side were also defending with confidence as half-time arrived with the match goalless.
The second half continued in the same way but it was Doncaster who made the breakthrough in the 76th minute when a rare defensive slip from the Reds allowed the Belles’ Jess Andrew to net with a long-range shot which sneaked in via the woodwork.
The United management team made a tactical switch in reverting to three at the back and putting on a third centre forward.
It was up to the players now and incredibly they found another gear from somewhere deep inside and took the game to the Belles with a passion.
The Reds swarmed around the Belles goal and chances came, but last-ditch defending and a superb save with her legs by the Belles keeper kept the Reds out.
However, on 87 minutes the ball fell to Redditch substitute Jade Guppy who fired home to level and take the match to penalties.
Reds keeper Mariska Hadley leapt to her right to save the first Belles effort before Jodie Price stepped up to put Redditch ahead.
The Belles then fired over the bar to leave Redditch in the driving seat and further successful kicks from Abbie Bailey, Guppy and Isobel Godfrey sealed a 4-1 success on spot-kicks.
Redditch will host Boldmere St Michaels Women – managed by former United Women boss Gary Barrell – in the next round on Sunday, November 1 (KO TBC). Tickets for the game will be available on the gate.