Wolves Women 2 (Edwards 65, J. Cross 93) Nottingham Forest Women 2 (Axten 49, 105)
Wolves win 5-4 on penalties.
Wolves Women made it into the third round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup after an incredible showcase of women’s football saw Dan McNamara’s side overcome third tier Nottingham Forest in a dramatic penalty shootout.
In an entertaining battle which swung one way and then the other, Wolves dominated much of the first-half, but were unable to take their chances, before being punished by Rosie Axten, who put Forest ahead just after the break.
But Nyah Edwards’ stunning strike brought Wolves back into the game before the hosts took the lead for the first time through Jade Cross at the start of extra-time, but a penalty by Axten took the game to penalties.
With the tie in sudden-death, Wolves goalkeeper Bec Thomas was the hero when she pushed Olivia Cook’s spotkick behind the post to secure passage into the third round.
Forest had the first opportunity of the match when Axten slipped a pass through to Charlotte Steggles who charges into the box before laying the ball back out to Laura-Jayne O’Neill, but the left-back cross-turned is comfortably caught by Wolves goalkeeper Bec Thomas.
Tammi George powered through the Forest midfield and laid the ball into the path of Alisha Miller who let fly from the edge of the box, but the visiting keeper Aja Aguirre got down well to smoother the effort.
Wolves were looking to use the pace of Jade Cross to get their attacks underway, with Miller and George both playing balls over the top of the Forest defence for Jade Cross to run onto, but Aguirre was quickly off her line to stop the build-up.
The best chance to open the scoring for the hosts came from the boot of Anna Morphet. The defender – a talent from set-pieces – stepped up from 20 yards out and although Aguirre looked to be going the wrong way, the Forest keeper was able to recover her feet and keep the ball from crossing the goalline.
Forest were given a let-off with just over half-an-hour on the clock when Olivia Cook brought down Jade Cross just outside the area when the Wolves striker was in full flow. Although Cook picked up a booking, manager Dan McNamara questioned whether or not the Forest defender should have received her marching orders with Cook being the last defender.
With Forest staying with 11 players on the pitch, Morphett’s subsequent free-kick untroubled Aguirre as it deflected off the top of the wall before going behind. Aguirre was then able to jump above the head of former Forest defender Kelly Darby to stop the corner resulting in a goal.
Jade Cross came inches away from opening the scoring moments later. Having powered through the Forest defence, the striker – holding off two blue shirts – aimed a shot at goal, but her effort narrowly misses wide of the left upright.
Half-time: Wolves 0-0 Forest
Despite dominating the first-half, Wolves were punished for not taking their chances early in the second period. Axten made no mistake with his first chance at goal when she was slipped between the gold and black defence by Hayley James and, facing Thomas one-on-one, guided the ball under the outrushing the keeper and into the back of the net.
Forest kept the pressure on after taking the lead, with James bringing down a cross inside the Wolves box but was unable to force the ball over the line, with Morphett doing enough to clear the danger.
The hosts had a glorious chance to level the scoreline though Lowri Walker, with the Welsh youth international going on an impressive run through the heart of the Forest midfield, and having burst past the defence, her shot from just inside the area was unable to beat Aguirre. The visiting keeper did well to then deny Jade Cross from close range.
Just moments later, Wolves got their equaliser and it came via a stunning shot by Edwards. The midfielder found space on just inside the corner of the penalty area, and let fly, with her effort flying past Aguirre and nestling into the top corner. The goal was Edwards’ last contribution to the game, as she was immediately replaced by Jamila Palmer.
With cramp playing an issue for several players after four months away without football, the tempo slowed as the game progressed, but Wolves were still pushing for that crucial goal, and Palmer, fresh off the bench, was played inside by Jade Cross, but her early shot was comfortable for Aguirre.
As extra-time approached, Wolves were trying to tie up the win in 90 minutes, with the impressive Summer Holmes attempting a shot from long-range, but her effort swerved wide of the goal, setting up another half an hour of football.
Full-time: Wolves 1-1 Forest
Taking the game to Forest, Wolves came inches away from taking the lead for the first time in the contest minutes into extra-time, as Miller attempted to lob Aguirre from the edge of the box, but her chipped effort was able to be pushed behind by the Forest keeper.
But it didn’t take long for Wolves to get in front through talismanic forward Jade Cross. A mix-up in the Forest defence allowed Cross to snatch the ball as it made its way to Aguirre, and the striker was able to nip in before the keeper reached it to push the ball over the goalline.
Moments before the half-time whistle of extra-time, Forest equalised from the penalty spot. A long free-kick was lifted into the Wolves penalty area, and having been flicked on, the ball unfortunately struck the hand of a gold and black defender, allowing Axten to double her tally as she fired her penalty high past Thomas.
During the second period of extra-time, Scholefield missed narrowly wide for the visitors when she was played in between the Wolves defence, while Walker attempted an audacious effort for Wolves from 30 yards, which flew harmlessly wide. With the teams being unable to be separated, the game headed to penalties.
Extra-time: Wolves 2-2 Forest
Morphet (Wolves) SCORES 1-0
Brown (Forest) SCORES 1-1
Walker (Wolves) SCORES 2-1
Harkin (Forest) MISSES 2-1
Palmer (Wolves) SCORES 3-1
Moncaster (Forest) SCORES 3-2
Dicken (Wolves) SCORES 4-2
James (Forest) SCORES 4-3
Price (Wolves) MISSES 4-3
Axten (Forest) SCORES 4-4
Darby (Wolves) SCORES 5-4
Cook (Forest) MISSES 5-4
Final score: Wolves 2-2 Forest (5-4 on pens)
Wolves: Thomas, Morphet, Darby, E. Cross, Price, Holmes, Walker, Edwards (Palmer 67), George (Evans 106), Miller (Dicken 101), J. Cross.
Unused subs: Conod, Jennings, Paraiso, Chase, Conlan, Johnson.
Forest: Aguirre, Hewitt (Middleton 106), Harkin, Cook, O’Neill, Greengrass (Moncaster 84), James, Naylor (Brown 112), Steggles (Tudor 78), Bonser (Scholefield 71), Axten.
Unused subs: Walters, Dexter, Fisher, McKechnie.