Wolves 1 (Merrick pen 67) Brighton & Hove Albion 4 (Robinson 41, Kullberg 88, 90+2, 90+6)
Wolves Women were knocked out of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup as they suffered a 4–1 defeat to WSL side Brighton & Hove Albion in front of a record crowd at New Bucks Head.
However, the scoreline didn’t reflect the action throughout the 90, as Wolves went toe-to-toe with their opponents two divisions higher and were minutes away from a period of extra time.
The visitors took the lead late in the first half when Poppy Pattinson crossed for Katie Robinson to slot home.
Beth Merrick equalised from the penalty spot midway through the second half, but a late hat-trick from Emma Kullberg saw the visitors progress into the quarter-finals.
Dan McNamara’s side almost opened the scoring in the first minute, when Merrick picked up a loose ball deep in Brighton territory and drove pasty Li Mengwen. Merrick fizzed a left-footed effort towards goal which flashed inches wide of Sophie Baggaley’s post.
The visitors responded well to Wolves’ fast start and some smart play between Pattinson and Tatiana Pinto led to the latter firing a shot at Bec Thomas, who gathered at the second attempt.
Robinson had two chances to break the deadlock before the 15-minute mark, but the Old Gold defence stood strong against the Brighton pressure.
McNamara’s side retained a threat of their own and squandered a brilliant chance to take the lead when Merrick’s long ball into the area landed at the feet of Katie Johnson. The defender met the bouncing ball with a left-footed effort, but the powerful shot flew over the crossbar.
Mikey Harris’ side found an opening goal with four minutes to play in the first period when Robinson was perfectly placed to tap in Pattinson’s cross, following good work from Lee Geum-Min.
Half-time | Wolves 0–1 Brighton & Hove Albion
The Old Gold made a positive start after the break and almost drew level when Amber Hughes’ prodded volley was headed narrowly over by Ellie Wilson.
Moments later, the ball dropped for Johnson on the edge of the area, whose audacious volley bounced just wide of the mark.
Wolves were awarded a free-kick when Tammi George was brought down in the middle of the park, and the Old Gold made the most of the opportunity.
Wilson attempted to latch onto Merrick’s lofted ball, but the defender was dragged to the ground by a Brighton defender and referee Phoebe Cross pointed to the spot.
Merrick stepped up and slotted coolly into the bottom right-hand corner of Baggaley’s goal for 1-1.
The visitors went in search of a late winner and came close through Kullberg with 10 minutes to play, but a brilliant last-ditch prod away from Merrick cleared the danger.
It appeared as if the Old Gold had done enough to force extra time, but a late surge down the left flank saw a dangerous ball in land at the feet of Kullberg, who bundled home.
As Wolves scrapped for a late equaliser, Kullberg benefitted from open spaces in the home defence and netted twice more to complete her hat-trick deep into additional time.
Full-time | Wolves 1–4 Brighton and Hove Albion
With us every step of the way pic.twitter.com/5Iu1686h0D— Wolves Women FC (@WolvesWomen) February 11, 2024
18/02/24 – West Brom (H) Challenge Cup
21/02/24 – Stourbridge (A)
25/02/24 – Liverpool Feds (H)
Wolves | Thomas, Wilson, George, Will, Hughes (J. Cross 89), Johnson, Fergusson (Dudley-Jones 58), Toussaint, Roberts (Banaras 71), Bramford, Merrick.
Unused subs | Turner, E. Cross, Harrison, Holmes, Fryer.
Brighton & Hove Albion | Baggaley, Pattinson, Bergsvand, Geum-Min (Hall 90+4), Ziggioti, Terland, Carabali, Pinto (Dent 90+4), Symonds, Robinson (Kullberg 63), Mengwen (Sarri 63).
Unused subs | Losada, Smith, Loeck, Startup.
Report by Joe Dixon