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Cardiff City Ladies 4 Coventry City 3 (aet)
Cardiff City Ladies captain Abbie Britton scored a stunning 30-yard goal in extra time to settle a thrilling Premier League Cup quarter final tie at Keynsham.
The tie of the round lived up to its billing as the leaders of the Northern and Southern Divisions produced a see-saw battle which remained in the balance until the very last kick.
Coventry went into the match with a 22-match unbeaten record but it was Cardiff who took the lead with three minutes on the clock. Laura Williams whipped a dangerous free kick into the area and the ball bounced in off the unfortunate Nikki Miles for the opening goal.
Buoyed by the opening goal, Cardiff passed the ball around confidently and Michelle Green was next to try her luck with a shot which Sue Wood palmed wide. Green was having a fine match in the centre of midfield along with Kelly Isaac but Cardiff could not add to their early lead and Coventry started to come more into the game.
Amber Hughes brought out a good save from Alesha McGlynn but on the 26 minute mark, the Cardiff keeper failed to hold a deep cross from Ashleigh Neville and Hughes reacted quickly to bundle the ball home from the equaliser.
The game was turned on its head as it reached the half hour mark and Coventry took the lead for the first time. Once again a Neville cross was fumbled by McGlynn and Hughes pounced to score her second goal.
Back came cross with Laura Williams drilling in a cross which was just too high for Naomi Clipston and at the other end, McGlynn atoned for her earlier errors with a fine save to keep out Maz Gauntlett following a good run and cross by Samantha Quayle. Clipston was inches off target with a lob as the Sky Blues kept their lead going into half time.
The second half was played in torrential rain and it was Coventry who had the first opportunity, Helen Dermody racing onto a long clearance from Wood before her shot was saved.
Cardiff resumed their possession game but were finding it difficult to pierce a well organised Coventry defence at this stage, well organised by Natasha Lynch in the centre. However on 64 minutes, they produced a fine piece of play on the left through Laura Williams who made her way to the line and pulled the ball back in for Isaac to slot home from ten yards.
Cardiff almost regained their lead when Shanelle Edwards made a strong run into the area before being halted by an excellent saving tackle by Miles. This looked to have been a pivotal moment in the game when Coventry went back in front, Cardiff giving away possession at the back and Dermody capitalised superbly by giving McGlynn no chance with a 25-yard strike.
However Cardiff came back once again, Clipston skipping past three defenders before burying her shot in the far corner to complete a fine individual goal.
As Cardiff pressed for a winner, there was a moment of controversy when Cori Williams was brought down by Miles when through on goal, the Sky Blues defender perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow card. The free kick, taken by Clipston, brought out a good save from Wood. Isaac curled in the resulting corner and Britton headed against the post from close range.
Neither side could make another breakthrough, taking the game into extra time, and the earliest chance went Coventry's way. Jade Formaston played a good ball into the path of Hughes who lobbed McGlynn but her effort was narrowly off target.
Cardiff began to grow stronger with Laura Williams again lively on the left, indeed the whole match had produced a fine battle on the left flank between her and Coventry's impressive full back Annabel Johnson, who also had an excellent game. However the winger was to have a great chance to give her side the lead when she was released in the area by a superb reverse pass from Clipston but Wood got down well to save and then smother the loose ball.
Dermody was just off target with a shot from the edge of the area as the second period began but with six minutes left, Cardiff struck a decisive blow. A clearance was picked up by Britton 30 yards from goal where she unleashed a shot which sailed past a helpless Wood and into the top corner of the net.
Coventry threw everything they could at Cardiff to try and snatch an equaliser in the dying minutes. A Dermody cross almost led to a breakthrough; Johnson's header was blocked by Laura Williams and the ball fell in front of goal to Lynch who looked certain to score but Britton threw herself in the way to charge down her shot at point blank range. The resulting corner was headed inches wide by Formaston and the final chance was gone.
Cardiff will therefore play Charlton Athletic in the semi finals and a win there would set up a repeat of last year's Final against Sheffield FC. Both teams are also heavily involved in title battles and neither will be far away at the end of the season.
Cardiff City Ladies: Alesha McGlynn, Abbie Britton, Katy Hunt, Hannah Daley, Nia Jones, Michelle Green, Kelly Isaac, Shanelle Edwards, Naomi Clipston, Cori Williams, Laura Williams. Subs: Kayleigh Green, Annie Pritchard, Zoe Atkins, Kerry Bartlett, Chloe Tucker.
Coventry City: Sue Wood, Annabel Johnson, Samantha Quayle, Jade Formaston, Natasha Lynch, Nikki Miles, Helen Dermody, Callan Barber, Amber Hughes, Maz Gauntlett, Ashleigh Neville. Subs: Emily March, Libby Piggott, Ellie Towers.
(top) Ashleigh Neville is up against Michelle Green and Shanelle Edwards
(middle) Sue Wood and Annabel Johnson keep Laura Williams at bay
(bottom) Abbie Britton makes a last gasp block to deny Natasha Lynch
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