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Women's Football News
Maidenhead Utd 2 Old Actonians 2
(Maidenhead won 4-3 on penalties)
Maidenhead United and Old Actonians served up an FA Women's Cup treat at York Road as they battled out a thrilling 2-2 draw over 120 minutes.
It was the hosts who squeezed through to the Third Qualifying Round with two Callie Neat penalty saves proving to be decisive in a shootout win.
Both teams and their support staff deserve great credit for an excellent match which ebbed and flowed throughout and had a whole host of near misses, fine goalkeeping and heroic defending to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats. Both teams will also point to wasted chances which could have turned the match in either direction and avoided the need for penalties and the cruellest of Cup exits for the West Londoners.
Maidenhead grabbed the early advantage when Hannah Summers scored direct from a left wing corner on seven minutes but Actonians were soon creating chances of their own. Maidenhead keeper Ellie Parker kept out a dangerous free kick under pressure on 11 minutes but needed treatment for a knock. OA's keeper Naomi Swift did well to save a powerful effort from Olivia Buzaglo after a well crafted attack on the left. It was Carla Williams who won the free kick which led to the equaliser with the tall midfielder rising high to head home from close range on 23 minutes. The same player nearly added a second almost from the restart with a 45-yard effort but Parker was able to catch the shot as she retreated.
Actonians continued to dominate with Natasha Cree and Shannon Odofin going close then Cree rounding the keeper cleverly but not being able to convert from a tight angle. Natalie Randall had another shot well held by Parker whilst Maidenhead struggled to mount any attacks of their own. A Summers free kick just over the bar from 30 yards on 44 minutes was the closest they had come by the break.
The pattern continued on the restart with Actonians being denied by fine saves from Parker, firstly from Cree then from a Williams shot at the near post. The visitors deservedly took the lead on 56 minutes with another header from a free kick, this time skipper Catherine Murphy rising above the defence to flick the ball beyond Parker.
The Maidenhead keeper was substituted just after the hour but it was her opposite number Swift who was next in action getting down well to deny a right foot effort from Buzaglo. Sub Sophie Weller had a good chance to add to Actonians lead but shot straight at sub keeper Neat.
Maidenhead stepped up their play in the final half hour of normal time and were level on 79 minutes when Swift failed to hold a shot and Tina Brett was on hand to tuck the ball away. The hosts looked more and more dangerous as the match neared the end of normal time. Buzaglo had two great chances to settle the tie, using her pace to break clear, but she was unable to find the target on either occasion so the match moved into an additional 30 minutes.
Chances came and went as the match became stretched but both teams continued to play at an excellent tempo. Maidenhead hit the bar from distance and a follow up header from Buzaglo went over. Alex Dover also had a cross shot against the bar for the Magpies whilst Neat made an excellent save to deny Randall, turning a powerful low effort round the post. Cree broke clear of the defence for OA's and seemed certain to win the tie but was crowded out at the last as only penalties would be able to separate two very evenly matched teams, both unbeaten this season.
Swift made a stunning save from the fourth Maidenhead penalty to keep the visitors in the tie but this was matched by Neat who turned away the fifth Actonians effort for her second penalty save to seal the narrowest of victories for her side. Both sets of players deserve great credit for a well contested match with a high degree of skill but it is Maidenhead United, top of the Southern Region Premier League, who will await the draw for the Third Qualifying Round on Monday.
Maidenhead Utd: Ellie Parker, Natalie Barette, Hannah Summers, Alex Dover, Zoe Clifford, Tina Brett, Olivia Buzaglo, Chelsea Goulter, Louise Ekins, Lucy Smith, Amy Saunders. Subs: Sinead Thompson, Jess Perkins, Kat Peters, Tracy Corkett, Callie Neat.
Old Actonians: Naomi Swift, Catherine Murphy, Hannah Olofsson, Leah Taylor, Rosie Stone, Sinead Friel, Natalie Randall, Sharon Odofin, Carla Williams, Natasha Cree, Lafe Uche. Subs: Sophie Weller, Nikki Wright, Shadia Edwards-Dashti.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Catherine Murphy challenges Tina Brett
(middle) Tina Brett makes a burst inbetween Late Uche and Leah Taylor
(bottom) Sinead Friel and Olivia Buzaglo
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