A Midlands derby in the Women’s FA Cup with a chance for either team to be in the draw for the Quarter Final with only being three games away from their Wembley Dream. Jenny Sugarman’s Northern Premier League team would be taking on Jay Bradford’s Championship team, but with the FA Cup as many times before you would know this wouldn’t be a simple game for either team.
The crowds were coming in through the gate and the teams warmed up, the sun was shining on the pitch. B
With both teams being nervous no doubt the chance to make history an early opening goal for Coventry United was massive for them to settle them into the game. After Charlie Estcourt had her shot blocked it rebounded into the path of Alanah Mann who slotted the ball home after six minutes to make it 0-1. “It is a bird, is it a plane no it’s ALANAHMANN!”
But on the 23rd minute, Coventry doubled their lead after Natalie Johnson took aim and like DC’s Deadshot she hit her pinpointed shot right into the top corner making it 0-2.
This was the moment of fight or flight for West Brom, would the rise or fall? They had pulled one back on the 26th minute. When you need a hero, when you need a star who else but the ever-impressive Shannon Stamps (who I believe has scored in every West Brom game I have attended this season) left Lucy Thomas no chance in the Coventry goal as the scoreboard ticked to 1-2 with all to play for.
The next goal was key in the tie and Katie Wilkinson made it 1-3 on the 45th minute. As Wilko connected with the corner it nestled into the top corner. The half time whistle followed with Coventry in control of the tie.
The second half got underway with West Brom needing to score the next goal to get back into the tie. Jenny’s team was on top at the start of the second half and on the 56th minute, Mariam Mahmood was brought down. It looked like a penalty but the referee waved it away as Coventry might have got away with one.
Coventry looked refreshed and re-invigorated when Olivia Fergusson came onto the pitch. And she nearly got on the scoresheet straight away after a one-two with Katie Wilkinson, however Poppy Bastock was equal to the effort.
Kerry Walklett had an effort well blocked before the 72nd minute which saw a red card and a penalty awarded to West Brom. Natalie Haigh received the red after bringing down Mahmood in the area and as Tash Tezgel explained in the bar, you can have double jeopardy if the player doesn’t make an attempt for the ball. Leigh Dugmore stepped up to smash the penalty home to make it 2-3 with 18 minutes left and all to play for.
With the game evenly balanced and West Brom looking to pull level, it was one of Coles Lane’s finest ever players to run the hallowed green.
Olivia Fergusson settled the tie from the bench as she sprinted faster than Speedy Gonzalez to connect with the cross to make it 2-4 on the 87th minute and secure Coventry’s place in the final eight.
The full time whistle went with Coventry United winning and taking their place in the draw on Tuesday. A team that looked as if they wouldn’t play another game, a team that would have to disband, a team the FA deducted points from basically condemning them to relegation are now Women’s FA Cup Quarter Finalists.
We had the pleasure of chatting to Lewis Taylor after the game and I’m sure a lot of people will agree with what we said about him saving Coventry United being an amazing feat. Even though West Brom didn’t win the game they should walk off the pitch with the growth and promotion of their team.
It’s a beautiful thing to see young and older ones getting selfies and autographs with the players after the game. A team is nothing without fans and they mean the world to the players as well. Both teams put on a fantastic show, we returned to our old ground and was lucky enough to see so many old faces and relieve so many old memories. The reason I love women’s football and make sure on Sundays (and other days) that I get down to a match and support the great game.
West Brom: Poppy Bastock, Ashlee Brown, Jessica Davies, Abi Loydon, Hannah George, Trina Greaves (Leanne Robinson 87), Isabel Green (Rosie Embley 81), Shannon Stamps, Mariam Mahmood, Leigh Dugmore, Kerry Walklett
Coventry United: – Lucy Thomas, Natalie Haigh, Fran Orthodoxou, Katy Morris, Elisha N’Dow (Anna Wilcox 45), Katie Wilkinson, Charlie Estcourt, Mollie Green (Naomi Hartley 61), Natalie Johnson (Olivia Fergusson 61), Freya Thomas (Becky McGrother 89), Alanah Mann.
Photo: Adam Nunn