Five classic games from 2023/24

Highs and lows were aplenty throughout the 2023/24 season and Wolves Women more than played their part in some extraordinary games during the course of the campaign.

With the season having drawn to a close and the off-season three weeks in, takes one final look at five classic games from 2023/24.

Wolves 4-3 Nottingham Forest | Sunday 21st April | FA Women’s National League

Arguably the game that provided the most dramatic moment of the league season for Dan McNamara’s side. The Old Gold came into the home fixture with Nottingham Forest on the back of five successive victories against a side who hadn’t been beaten since November. Both teams were in form and full of confidence. What was about to be served up at the New Bucks Head was nothing short of astonishing.

56 of a rollercoaster 90-plus minutes went the way of Forest, who raced into a three-goal lead with just 11 minutes of the second half played. Louanne Worsey and Sophie Domingo saw the visitors head into the half-time break with a comfortable advantage and cruising. It was three when Holly Manders converted from close range on 56 minutes and Wolves had a mountain to climb.

However, in true Old Gold spirit, there was a sense that the game was far from over when Amber Hughes pulled one back just shy of the hour. Wolves had half an hour to find two goals, maybe even three. The deficit was reduced further when Beth Merrick sent a looping shot from distance into the back of the net with 19 to play, ensuring a nervy finale for Forest. The momentum was with McNamara and his players, who sensed the pendulum swinging in their favour. That never-say-die attitude shone through, as substitute Liv Fergusson equalised in the 90th minute with a back-post header – now it was level pegging. There were still a few minutes of stoppage time to play. Wolves couldn’t snatch all three points, could they? Roared on by the Telford crowd, the home side pushed forward again and after Hughes and Fergusson combined to win the ball back, the former played it out left to Merrick who struck a first-time effort low and into the bottom right corner to spark euphoric scenes. Wolves had completed a sensational comeback to secure all three points and put an end to the unbeaten Forest run, while Merrick’s goal went on to win the Goal of the Season award.


Reading 1-2 Wolves | Sunday 14th January | Adobe Women’s FA Cup

Defying the odds is a term used frequently when explaining the characteristics of this Wolves Women squad. Each season, the FA Cup provides teams with an opportunity to do exactly that when they are pitted against higher-ranked opposition. After progressing past Stourbridge, Peterborough United and Hull City, the Old Gold were drawn to face Championship outfit Reading away from home in the fourth round.

In their opening game of 2024, Wolves had been beaten 2-1 by Burnley at the New Bucks Head, so a trip to the EBB Stadium to take on the Royals looked ambitious, but achievable. However, if McNamara’s troops were to create history and reach the fifth round for the first time in their modern history, they were going to have to do it the hard way. Despite a bright start to the tie, Madison Perry gave Reading the lead at half-time and the favourites were on course to progress. Away from home and against opposition in the division above, Wolves were up against it.

But, the magic of the FA Cup is so often alive and kicking, and Wolves were determined to play their part. They were dominating their second-tier opponents and it was only a matter of time before Merrick bent a superb equaliser into the far corner. Once again, the Wolves fan produced another special moment for her hometown club. There were chances for a winner at both ends as Shan Turner denied Reading before substitute Meesha Dudley-Jones hit the crossbar minutes into her Old Gold debut. However, with two minutes to play and extra time looming, the visitors snatched a historic winner as Destiney Toussaint rose highest to head home Ellie Wilson’s cross to secure a place in the fifth round and complete a famous cup upset.

Wolves 2-2 West Brom (4-2 pens) | Sunday 18th February | Birmingham Challenge Cup

Having won the last eight Black Country derbies, Wolves went into February’s Birmingham Challenge Cup semi-final against West Brom as the clear favourites. However, the day was far from plain sailing. In fact, a waterlogged pitch at the New Bucks Head meant the tie saw a late switch of venue to Compton Park as the reigning champions of the competition eyed their third successive final and crown. The Baggies, however, had other ideas.

Wolves were a goal down inside just 30 seconds and two behind after nine minutes. Simrat Jhamat and Lucy Newell were on target for West Brom and Wolves already had a mountain to climb barely 10 minutes after leaving the dressing room. Fortunately, the ever-reliable Wilson pulled one back on 13 minutes and the home side were right back in the tie. However, chances then came and went and the clock continued to tick by with the scoreline at 1-2. It didn’t look to be the Old Gold’s day.

But, as the minute hit 90, Wolves finally got their reward for a lengthy period of pressure and forced a late, late equaliser. After Toussaint’s cross was blocked and Ania Denham unable to scramble home, Jade Cross was on hand to squeeze the ball over the line and take the tie to penalties. Wolves were ice cool from 12 yards, scoring all four of their spot-kicks courtesy of Anna Morphet, Toussaint, Denham and Katie Johnson, while Bec Thomas was the shootout hero making two saves including one to clinch progression into the final. And breathe.

Wolves 4-4 Rugby Borough (3-4 pens) | Tuesday 14th May | Birmingham Challenge Cup

The reward for their semi-final exploits was a meeting with Rugby Borough at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium as the two sides met in the final of the Birmingham Challenge Cup. Wolves were chasing their third successive crown on what turned out to be a not-so-quiet night.

Up against their Southern Premier Division counterparts, Wolves were two goals behind at the interval and simply hadn’t got going. Borough were right at it, first to everything and had their two-goal lead to show for it through Lily Greenslade and Lucy Whipp. McNamara’s half-time words had the desired impact, though, as Tammi George pulled one back early into the second 45 with a stunning effort into the top corner. Despite this, Rugby regained their two-goal advantage on 73 minutes as Greenslade struck for the second time to make it 3-1. From 84 minutes, the tie then took a crazy turn and had a mind of its own.

Morphet scored from the spot for 3-2 before Wilson popped up with another dramatic equaliser one minute before the 90. Extra time anyone? It seemed not, when the game again swung the way of Rugby. Wolves couldn’t believe it when Nicky Potts made it 4-3 in additional time to leave them on their knees yet again. Fight, spirit and passion had all played their part in Wolves coming from 3-1 down to level to 3-3 prior to that – they needed all of that and more if they were going to keep their cup hopes alive. After her dramatic leveller in the semi-final, J. Cross stepped up for her side for the second round running, managing to poke home from close range in 90+6 following a goalmouth scramble. Penalties it was.

Unfortunately for Wolves, Rugby were clinical from the spot and misses from Sophie Bramford and Merrick meant the Challenge Cup went the way of Borough. A breathtaking final at the Pirelli and one which will live long in the memory of all concerned.

Stourbridge 0-8 Wolves | Wednesday 3rd April | FA Women’s National League

3-0. 8-0. The two scorelines when Wolves hosted Stourbridge at the New Bucks Head in the first half of the season. Three goals in a league victory and eight goals in an FA Cup rout. Surely not again?

Wolves had picked up in the league with three wins and three clean sheets from their last four. They made the short trip to the War Memorial Ground hungrier than ever and about to embark on another ruthless night of football in front of goal. Intent was clear from the outset and the Old Gold were four to the good inside just 20 minutes. Hughes, Morphet, Hughes, George. Stourbridge were up against it. It was five by half-time when George added a fifth and her second just before the whistle.

Confidence was running through the veins of the visitors and they sensed there were more goals coming their way in the second half. Substitute Fergusson got in on the act four minutes after her introduction, and Morphet notched another from the spot. Were double figures a possibility with the scoreline at seven with just under 20 to play? Naturally, the foot was slightly taken off the gas, however Fergusson did manage to score her second on 81 minutes – the eighth and final goal of what turned out to be a clinical display in front of goal. There were four braces in total. Hughes, Morphet, George and Fergusson each got two as Wolves put their local rivals to the sword.