Stoke City Ladies 1-2 Nottingham Forest Women (Women’s FA Cup Round Three) 12.12.21
A hard-working, come-from-behind performance from Andy Cook’s Reds saw them book their place in the Fourth Round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, for the first time in four years, with a 2-1 win at Stoke City Women, a game which would see the visitors debut their dual-coloured, third kit.
Twice quarter-finalists, in 2004 and 2010, the latter seeing the Reds narrowly lost away to Barnet, Forest have made the fourth on several occasions in the past decade, including back-to-back in 2015 and 2017; this season, they’ll look to better that record.
Although the Reds would be seen to make most of the early running, Mai Moncaster crossing as early as the first minute only for Rosie Axten’s header to be straight at the home ‘keeper, whilst Steele would see an effort at the other end tipped over well, from range, by Emily Batty, a quarter way into the game
The hosts though would also be seen to have chances of their own, as Becky Knight, Roisin Kivel, and Callan Barber, Lizzie Steele also stinging Batty’s palms with an effort prior to Kivel hitting the post.
The opener would appear just before the half-hour, the hosts taking the lead when Beth Roberts was fouled following a direct run into the box, Barber being seen to send Batty the wrong way from the penalty spot, the goal affording them the interval lead.
As they had done in the first, Forest did the same in the second, coming out the blocks fast with early efforts, but this time searching the equaliser.
First Becky Anderson would send a free-kick wide of the home goal within minutes of the restart, then, not long after, Rachel Brown and Moncaster combined well on the right, but the final ball flashes across goal.
The equaliser would finally arrived, shortly before the hour mark, when a corner from Axten was headed home by the ever-industrious Rachel Brown.
Having made some timely substitutions on occasion this campaign, the Reds boss would make a double change just after the hour, bringing on Amy West and Georgia Hewitt, however, it would be a summer signing that would prove the deciding factor this time around.
With the contest heading towards its final ten minutes, Becky Anderson would receive the ball, and proceed to lob an effort up and over the home ‘keeper, and drop into the net for what would prove the decisive, winning goal.
Now, thoughts turn firmly to that fourth round contest, on 30 January, when they play host to Barclays FA Women’s Super League side, Manchester City Women.
The first time in which the two sides will have met in professional competition, opponents City have won the competition on three, previous occasions, in 2017, 2019, and 2020, making it as big a tie as possible for the Reds.
Before that comes around, there’s the small matter of a number of league games in the New Year, beginning with Stoke City, away, on 9 January.
Forest: Emily Batty, Lyndsey Harkin, Rachel Brown (Amy West 63), Charlotte Steggles, Mai Moncaster, Rosie Axten, Niamh Reynolds, Grace Walters (Georgia Hewitt 63), Becky Anderson, Hayley James, Naomi Powell.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFCWomen Forest celebrate their third round win.