Saturday 26 May 2012
FA Women's Cup match
Blues Ladies won the FA Womens Cup in the most dramatic of fashions, beating Chelsea Ladies 3-2 on penalties.
Blues twice came from behind, firstly when Rachel Williams replied to Helen Lander’s opener in second-half stoppage time, then Karen Carney’s 112th minute equaliser cancelled out Kate Longhurst’s strike earlier in extra-time.
And Carney provided the winning touch at Bristol City FC’s Ashton Gate, by hitting home the winning penalty to spark jubilant scenes.
David Parker’s side started as if they meant business in sweltering conditions, exploiting the large pitch to pick holes in the Chelsea defence.
Blues went mightily close to seizing the initiative early on, when Carney’s floated ball in to the back post was met by Kerys Harrop’s head, but Carly Telford made a smart save.
The Londoners did pose a threat on the counter during the opening period, although Birmingham bossed proceedings and created the better opportunities.
Jodie Taylor tried her luck on 18 minutes from outside the area but her effort evaded Teflord’s near post by a couple of feet.
And Telford’s pressure shortly afterwards proved just enough for Carney to head Williams’ cross inches wide.
Chelsea caused a scare on 28 minutes, however, as Lander’s goal-bound strike was superbly tipped round the post by Rebecca Spencer.
Blues responded by enjoying yet more possession and they were nearly rewarded – but for the assistant referee’s flag ruling out Taylor’s goal.
The DCS Stadium outfit continued to carve out chances, with Emily Westwood narrowly heading over Carney’s corner.
But Matt Beard’s team immediately advanced up the other end of the pitch and smacked the post through Lander.
The second-half had a nervy feel to it as both sides appeared to realise what was at stake.
Neat link-up play between Taylor and Williams almost resulted in a couple of openings, then Chelsea’s Katie Sherwood blasted over from close range after Blues failed to clear a corner.
With the final becoming ever tighter, Lander struck a painful blow with a little over 20 minutes to play.
A hopeful punt out of defence was neatly controlled by Lander, who flicked the ball through her former Arsenal Ladies team-mate Laura Bassett’s legs, to bury the ball past Spencer.
Blues courageously attempted to take the affair to extra-time, and that they did.
It appeared that it wasn’t to be their day when the referee failed to award a penalty for a perceived barge on Bassett, then the 28-year-old was denied an equaliser in stoppage time courtesy of Claire Rafferty clearing off the line.
However, scenes of despair turned into ecstasy as Williams calmly side-footed home the ensuing corner.
Spencer was the one to jump to the rescue early on in extra-time, tipping over Longhurst’s cross-come-shot.
Taylor came just as close, though, the 25-year-old couldn’t loop her shot underneath the bar.
And Blues were made to pay with some tired defending in the energy-sapping heat, which allowed Longhurst to home in on goal and smash the ball past Spencer.
Blues heroically fought back for a second time and drew level on 112 minutes courtesy of Carney’s clever quick free-kick, to take the tie to penalties.
After overcoming their first penalty miss, Parker’s team moved into a 3-2 lead through Carney, and Gemma Bonner missed Chelsea’s last penalty to hand Blues the FA Cup.