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(AFC Wimbledon won 4-3 on penalties)>
New London Lionesses 3 AFC Wimbledon 3
(AFC Wimbledon won 4-3 on penalties)
AFC Wimbledon set up an SSE Women's FA Cup Second Round home tie with Portsmouth after an epic battle with New London Lionesses at Northwood FC.
The Greater London League Premier Division cup battlers made light of the two tier gap separating them from the Dons to match them over 120 minutes and even had the chance to clinch the tie in the penalty shootout, but it was the National League Division One South East club who prevailed 4-3 on penalties.
Lionesses were looking to match last season's progress from Preliminary Round to Second Round Proper and made the best possible start with the 13th minute opener forced home by Beth McGhee following a scramble after a corner. Caz Bisson replied with a long range effort against the bar before equalising with a superb 30-yard shot from a free kick on 32 minutes. The same player gave Dons the advantage from almost the same spot on 41 minutes. this time a low curling free kick ending in the bottom right corner.
Bisson completed a hat-trick of free kicks, this time a powerful drive from a central position 20 yards from goal on 52 minutes to put Dons in control. Lionesses' keeper Sarah Sackett prevented further damage with a good save from a Rosie Russell volley after a corner and the fightback began.
Good work by Kiz Fergus won a corner for Lionesses and Carla Botas San Martin's delivery was powerfully headed home by Natalie Mucke on 63 minutes. The game became stretched going into the final quarter with Dons always looking dangerous but sterling defensive work and some wayward finishing kept the underdogs in the match.
Fergus was inches away from an equaliser but it was San Martin who grabbed the late glory with another stunning free kick goal from a similar position to Bisson's first half efforts, the ball rebounding in off the underside of the bar to force extra time on 89 minutes.
The thirty added minutes followed a similar pattern to the second half, Wimbledon having the majority of the possession and pressure with Lionesses defending solidly and looking dangerous at times on the counter.
The shootout was a tense affair with Dons keeper Edie Kelly making two crucial saves, especially from the decisive fifth Lionesses penalty to take the match into sudden death at 2-2. Dons held their nerve to clinch the tie 4-3 after seven spot kicks apiece.
This was a match in the best traditions of the FA Cup with the lower ranked team giving a superb battling display before being edged out with Bisson's excellent hat-trick a highlight for the winners.
New London Lionesses:
Sarah Sackett, Anna Koscielska, Natalie Mucke, Carla Botas Sanmartin, Kiz Fergus, Lea Pope, Holly Newton, Beth McGhee, Samantha Lanza Gabian, Alice Dainty, Ariane Struckmeier. Subs: Nish Patel, Amelia Tearle, Amirah Houry, Laura Busk Petersen.
Edie Kelly, Jordanne Hoesli-Atkins, Sian Wylie, Hannah Billingham, Sarah Wentworth, Jess Trimnell, Rebecca Sargent, Rosie Russell, Jenny Nagle, Caroline Bisson, Georgia Heasman. Subs: Kelly Highman, Megan Kowalski, Hannah Baptiste, Katie Stanley, Laura Quinn-Low.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Georgia Heasman battles with Carla Botas San Martin
(middle) Edie Kelly gathers under pressure from Beth McGhee, watched by Hannah Billingham
(bottom) Kizz Fergus is tackled by Hannah Billingham
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