Wolves 4 (Selmes 11 pen, 56, Palmer 29, 83)
Manchester City Ladies 4 (Goodwin 61, Johnston 67, Buffell 75, Farrell 89)
Honours were even in a sublime game of football for the neutral, as Wolves Women managed a high-scoring draw against Premier League side Manchester City in the group stages of the League Cup.
Going into the game Wolves knew it was going to be a tough ask to get anything out of it as City are one league above them, having won the Northern Premier League title last season.
Wolves however weren’t daunted by the task in front of them and played some excellent football early on.
They created their first chance inside three minutes as Anna Perks slotted a great through ball to Jordan Timmins-Ray. Timmins-Ray crossed in for Amber Quick but she could only turn her effort over the bar.
Six minutes later Quick turned provider for Timmins-Ray but her effort was also lofted over the bar.
Wolves’ bright start was rewarded just two minutes later after Perks flicked the ball on from a goal kick allowing Jamillah Palmer to race down the left wing before squaring to Dani Selmes. Selmes was brought down after rounding the keeper, earning the home side a penalty, which she coolly dispatched to give Wolves an unlikely lead.
Selmes could have doubled the lead on 15 minutes but couldn’t get a clean connection on the ball after Quick drilled in a low cross as Wolves took control of the game.
Wolves were playing with a confidence that they hadn’t yet found this season and began to string together some fantastic passing moves as they looked to extend their lead: Timmins-Ray passed to Selmes who ran down the right-wing, crossing in for Quick before Palmer struck a fierce effort at goal which was well saved by the Man City keeper.
Minutes later, with Wolves continuing to look the better side, Selmes flicked the ball down the left as Palmer drove past the full-back, teeing up Quick whose driven effort was tipped over the bar.
Wolves doubled their lead on the half hour mark when a corner was half cleared out to Palmer who fired the ball first time on her weaker left foot through a ruck of players from the edge of the box.
Palmer almost made it three just five minutes later, as she saw her strike tipped around the post, with Philippa Wilson nearly converting from the resulting corner with a looping header.
Wolves continued to press after the restart, Lauren Walker rattling a free-kick against the post before Man City began to get back into the game. Natalie Hall made a fine save to tip an effort around the post before Palmer hit the post at the opposite end two minutes later after racing clear of the City defence.
Wolves appeared to have sealed the game on 56 minutes after a superb solo effort from Selmes. The striker tore down the left-hand side before she held the ball up looking for support. With Wolves sitting deep no support was to be found, so Selmes turned her marker beautifully before curling a stunning effort into the top corner from 20 yards out to make it 3-0.
However, Man City didn’t win the league last season because they’re easily beaten, and they refused to let their heads drop, scoring their first goal on the hour mark when Amanda Goodwin fired through a sea of bodies and past the unsighted Hall to pull a goal back.
Hall was called into action again shortly afterwards with another excellent stop to deny City but could do nothing to prevent their next attempt going in. Substitute Krystle Johnston picked the ball up 30 yards from the Wolves goal but she was allowed to run into space and fire an unstoppable shot into the top corner to bring City right back into the game.
And with 15 minutes left the comeback was complete when City broke down the Wolves left after winning back possession, and Sarah Buffell was on hand to nod the cross home from close range.
But Wolves managed to find that fighting spirit which won them their first points of the season last week at Derby, and grabbed their fourth goal with seven minutes remaining. Hall’s goal kick was flicked on by the imperious Selmes and Palmer raced through an indecisive City defence to round the keeper and slot home. This capped a great performance by Palmer, whose pace and direct running was too much for City to handle at times.
Unfortunately however Wolves could not hold on, and Man City equalised with less than a minute of normal time to go. A long range effort was parried in the difficult conditions and City were the first to react to the loose ball, Charlotte Farrell heading past the stricken Hall to draw level.
City also nearly stole it at the death with a 25 yard effort but Hall made a fantastic save to claw the ball out of the top corner.
It was mixed emotions for Wolves at the end - they were not expected to get a result against Premier League opposition but leading by three goals with half an hour to go and then drawing the game was a disappointment.
Goalscorer Jamillah Palmer said: “Today we managed to play as a team, just like we did last season.
“We battled for 90 minutes and scored four good goals against a great side who are in a higher league than us.
“We did struggle with our fitness towards the end but we can work on that as the season progresses.
“We looked like a much better team in the way we played today and I thought it was a good game in the end.”
There were also mixed feelings from manager James Astle.
He said: “It was a good overall performance today as a follow up from last week’s league game.
“We started well and were happy at half time, with good pressure applied and quick movement.
“We knew Man City would come out hard but we started strong.
“But a period of about 15 to 20 minutes let us down and we got nervous, and at this level you simply can't afford to relax and we lost the battle in midfield.
“All credit, we got it together and got a further goal.
“We shouldn't have conceded at the end but that's football and afterwards girls knew that in the dressing room.
“We've worked hard all week in training and it stood us well but we need to make sure we are solid for the full 90 minutes.
“We’re happy enough in the end as we knew where our shortfall was and they're raring to go for league action so it was a good overall game from us.”
*Wolves’ next game is in league action away at Preston on Sunday 30th September.
Team: N. Hall, Pinner, Salter, Williams, Walker, Perks, Wilson, Quick, Timmins-Ray, Palmer, Selmes. Unused Subs: Hooper, B. Hall.