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Women's Football News
Andover New Street staged two comebacks before beating Forest Green Rovers, of the South West Combination, on penalties following a thrilling 5-5 draw in the First Round of the F.A.Women's Cup.
The Southern Region League Division One side's hero was goalkeeper Steph Cole who saved three penalties to help her side into the Second Round, where they will play Cullompton Rangers.
New Street showed no nerves during the early stages and they took an early lead when Chantelle Clark fired home a shot from 30 yards. Forest Green hit back as the game moved towards half time, captain Kirsty Richardson levelling matters from the penalty spot.
The game exploded into life after the break as the temperature dropped and the pitch surface began to harden, making it tougher for defences. Forest Green went in front for the first time as Richardson drove home her second from the edge of the area but New Street replied quickly, the pacey Clark latching onto a through ball before coolly sliding past Claire Greatbanks.
Forest Green looked to have taken a firm grip as Mary-Ann Gittings headed in a Natalie Holbrook free kick and the striker scored her second two minutes later with a low shot. However a back pass by Richardson was intercepted by Kirsty Bell who ran through on goal and, although her initial shot came back off the post, she was on hand to tuck home the rebound.
New Street then laid siege to the Forest Green goal with Bell hitting the bar and Clark striking the post, while Elli Bartlett cleared off the line from Alex Cottier. It looked as though the Gloucestershire side would hold on but, deep into injury time, Clark shrugged off the attentions of Jodie Sheppard and again showed great calmness in sliding her shot past Greatbanks to level the scores. Forest Green could still have snatched victory seconds later as Cole could only claw away Lisa Mansell's dangerous cross and Charlotte King fired the loose ball over with the goal at her mercy.
The pace of the game began to slow in extra time with Forest Green having the better of the first period, coming closest as King pulled the ball back for Ella Hitchcox whose shot was saved by Cole.
Four minutes into the second period, Forest Green went in front once again as Mansell broke down the right and crossed for the impressive Hitchcox, who also showed a cool head in front of goal by controlling before crashing a right foot shot past Cole.
Again, Andover piled forward in the dying minutes and Greatbanks did well to hold on to a dipping shot from Cottier. Once more their efforts were rewarded as Clark hooked a cross into the centre of goal where a back pedalling Greatbanks could only claw away and Catherine Browning was on hand to sweep the ball home from six yards and send the game into a penalty shootout.
Clark missed Andover's first kick but Cole kept the scores level by saving from King. The next five penalties all found the net before Cole stopped the following attempt from Mansell. Andover were unable to take their match winning kick but Cole ensured victory as she saved from Abbie Sadler to finally separate the two teams.
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