Sam Berry’s eighty fourth minute free kick sealed The New Saints Ladies FA Cup third qualifying round win, beating FA Women’s Premier League side Leafield Athletic.
The Saints faced Leafield at home for the second season in a row at the same round of the competition. A slow start by the Saints saw the Premier League side have the better of the play and on ten minutes there possession was rewarded. A shot from twenty five yards lobed Saints goalkeeper Ceri Evans to give the visitors a deserved lead. The Saints started to get themselves back into the game and after twenty four minutes, referee Andy Davies awarded a free kick to the Shropshire side on the edge of the area. Chloe Wilkinson then struck an unbelievable shot at goal from the resulting kick, giving the Leafield goalkeeper no chance of saving it. The Saints then looked to be on top and eight minutes before the end of the half, took the lead. Sophie Edwards fired home a free kick on the edge of the Leafield area to take the Saints into a 2-1 half time lead.
The second half started where it left off, and after just five minutes, a through ball by Sophie Davies, saw Maddie Jones race away to fire a shot from the edge of the box to add to the Saints lead. The Premier League side wouldn’t let the tie lie though and after ten minutes got back into the game. A corner from the right hand side was swung in and met by a bullet header in the box to pull one goal behind. The game then went from end to end, Charlotte Canlett firing the Saints best chance just over the bar. It wouldn’t be an FA Cup tie without drama, with just ten minutes remaining Leafield pulled level. A mix up in the Saints box saw an easy tap in at the back post. With time remaining both teams then pushed for a winner but it would be the hosts who would be celebrating tonight. Leafield once again conceding a free kick thirty yards from goal. Sam Berry stepped up this time and lobbed the Leafield goalkeeper to see the Saints progress to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
After the game manager Joe Thompson commented, “What a game. It had everything but I think in the end the better team went through. We showed great bottle and determination today. They were physical we knew they would be but we combated that in the right way. I think they were lucky to remain with eleven players on the pitch but we went about things in the right way. Some things we can improve on and things we can do better but we’re getting there and I predict that by Christmas we will be frightening”.
“We’re starting to look like the team we all know we are. I am a very happy man tonight. Give me a victory like that over a 5-0 drubbing any day. Two special mentions today. Charlotte Canlett was excellent today. And so was Sophie Edwards. But the team on the whole were outstanding”.
The Saints travel to Crusaders Ladies next Sunday in the West Midlands Regional Women’s League.
The New Saints Ladies Line Up
1 Ceri Evans
21 Lousie Anderson
5 Nicola Walford
3 Sara Bengetsson (Kate Huntbach 46′)
17 Sophie Davies
8 Sophie Edwards (1)
10 Sam Berry © (1)
15 Chloe Wilkinson (1 ) (Michelle Pasco 58′)
17 Maddie Jones (1) (Laura Morris 50′)
9 Emily Ridge
19 Charlotte Canlett
4 Kate Huntbach (Sara Bengetsson 46′)
7 Laura Morris (Maddie Jones 50′)
15 Michelle Pasco (Chloe Wilkinson 58′)
18 Amy Tomei
23 Sarah Burke