Knowle Ladies 0 Wolves Women 4 (Price 58, Merrick 74, Holmes 78, J. Cross 90)
Wolves found the net four times in a dominant performance away at Knowle on Sunday afternoon in the Birmingham County Cup quarter-final.
Goals from Anna Price, Beth Merrick, Summer Holmes, and Jade Cross rounded off an impressive performance as Dan McNamara’s side confidently secured a place in the last four.
Despite a goalless first-half, Wolves were not short in producing chances. Merrick’s curling ball was unfortunate to not find anyone in the penalty box inside the opening five minutes, but moments later, her powerful effort from outside of the box headed straight towards the chest of the Knowle goalkeeper.
Wolves had plenty of possession and got forward at every opportunity, with Merrick putting in a brilliant shift down the left-hand side, proving a real threat for the Knowle defence.
The chances kept on coming and Merrick had another midway through the first-half, as her free-kick from just outside the box flew inches over the crossbar.
Wolves continued to push for the opener, despite the home side putting in a good defensive display, and another chance just before the break saw Merrick run through Knowle’s defence and pass it into Jade Cross, who unfortunately was unable to connect with the ball a few yards out.
Half-time | Knowle 0-0 Wolves
Wolves started the second-half as threatening as they did the first, with substitute Tammi George coming close to scoring from long-range early on.
The deadlock was broken just before the hour mark as a great ball into the box from Anna Morphet met the head of Price, who found the back of the net to put Wolves ahead.
The home side continued to put the pressure on, but the chances were still coming for Wolves and Merrick was on target to double the lead as she slotted the ball home from close-range.
A Merrick corner was then met by Holmes in the box to add to Wolves’ tally with just over ten minutes to go before Jade Cross got her name on the score sheet in the final minutes.
Full-time | Knowle 0-4 Wolves
Dan Macnamara was very pleased with his team’s performance but knew it was no easy contest against a team who put up a very deep block.
He said: “It was a difficult game. Credit to Knowle, I really thought they really battled and made it difficult. They defended like Trojans, and we had to stay patient. We dominated the game. I don’t think they entered our half. They had a game plan to try and stay in the game and they did it really well so credit to them.
“We just weren’t firing in the first-half, and I think the girls know that. The balls were excellent into the final third, but we couldn’t find that bit of quality we needed to convert one of those chances. Their goalkeeper did well too. It’s not all about us, I think their goalkeeper was really good in the first half.
“Our aim, however we did it, was to reach the semi-finals and we did it in the end with four outstanding goals.”
On Merrick’s importance this season
“She came in the summer and probably found that transition across to Wolves quite difficult for the first few weeks and I think she’s first to admit that.”
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen what we really signed in the summer. I think she’s outstanding, she’s aggressive and last weekend we really saw that angry side of her. She loves her football, and she loves the football club and that means a lot to a player when you’re going out there and representing something that you love.
“She’s an outstanding addition to the club and I think she’s going to get better and better with working with the coaches.”
Wolves face Derby County in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division on Sunday, their first league game in more than three months.
McNamara added: “It doesn’t matter the opponent, we’re just delighted to be back playing in the league. We’re delighted to be getting back onto the pitch after over 100 days of not playing a league game.”
23/01 Derby County (H)
26/01 West Bromwich Albion (A)
30/01 AFC Fylde (A)
06/02 Hull City (A)
13/02 Huddersfield (H)
Knowle: Smirthwaite, Holland, Smith, Byrne, Keen, Fleming, Barlow, Belcher, Wheatstone Betteridge, Rolph.
Wolves: Turner, Elsmore (Darby,45), Widdal, Price, Morphet, Holmes (E. Cross 80), Dicken (Cooper 65), Merrick, J. Cross (Butler 45), Miller (George 45), Edwards.
Words: Meg Garbutt