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Dronfield Town came from behind to finish 2-1 home winners over Barnsley Ladies in the first qualifying round of this season's Vitality Women's FA Cup.
Dronfield won their first tie in the competition last season, while for Barnsley, this was their debut tie.
Played in front of a healthy crowd of over 200, the game's first chance fell to Barnsley's Ruby Jex-Oldfield who, despite scoring goals for fun last season, was totally wayward after just two minutes. Amy Lassu's shot from 15 yards was just over on 19 minutes, while the closest Dronfield came in the first half was when Megan Clement produced a superb save to her top left to turn aside a fierce 22 yard from Carly Gill.
Barnsley, a separate outfit from Barnsley Women in the FA Women's National League, included several experienced players (at least five who had featured for the "Women" over the years), were defensively very strong.
Barnsley started the second half briskly, Dronfield keeper Shelby Newbould coming out to block Jex-Oldfield, while Charlotte Bailey came to the hosts' rescue with a goal-line clearance to deny Lynn Goodman. Ruby Burns was just over with Dronfield's first strike after the interval. Dronfield had a let off in a goalmouth scramble which included a fierce drive hitting the bar and bouncing down, but deemed not to have crossed the line.
It was still goalless as the tie entered the last quarter, but goals were not far away. Jex-Oldfield was unmarked at the far post to slot home from a low ball in from the right on 69 minutes. Dronfield levelled eight minutes later as Annabel Davies, on the right of the area, curling a shot into the far corner. With both teams going for a late winner to avoid the necessity of a penalty shootout (no extra time), the closing stages provided much to keep the crowd entertained. Barnsley won a free kick 25 yards out, but Lassu was unable to get sufficient power to beat Newbould who gathered comfortably. The winner came on 86 minutes, Davies being put clear, getting into the area and then coolly slotting past the advancing Clement. Jex-Oldfield was then close to a late equaliser to prolong the drama, but her shot from 25 yards dipped over.
It was third time lucky for Dronfield who had been beaten by Barnsley in both April and May this year when the pair were in the Sheffield & Hallam Women and Girls League. For, with the regular season curtailed, they were paired together in the initial group stages of League Cup whose format was re-vamped to give the member teams the opportunity to play several games after lockdown restrictions were eased to allow non-elite football to be resumed. Dronfield were 2-0 up in the first encounter of April's group games which determined those clubs who progressed to the main competition and which to the Shield. However, hosts Barnsley hit back to clinch a 3-2 victory with the winner coming very late in the game. Both, as expected, finished in the top two places in the group and so advanced to the group stages of the League Cup where it was a case of deja vu. Barnsley won 4-2 at home to Dronfield, but, again, as the two heavyweights in their group, both qualified for the knockout stages where they were in separate halves of the draw. Both duly won their quarter-final ties, but a penalty shoot out defeat at home to Wakefield Trinity Development in the semis ended Dronfield's interest. Barnsley lifted the Cup with a 3-1 win in the final to make it a successful weekend, Jex-Oldfield having also appeared for their Under-18s who beat Sheffield FC 4-2 in that age group of the Girls' finals.
Dronfield's reward is a home tie against Grimsby Town (who had a bye) and they will be hoping for a repeat of their step 7 over step 6 victory, Barnsley having been promoted to the North East Regional League via upward in the summer.
Dronfield Town: Shelby Newbould, Eleanor Rose, Carly Gill, Charlotte Bailey, Lois Ratcliffe, Laurie Marris, Jasmine Toland, Becky Hill, Ruby Burns, Annabel Davies, Lauren Bailey. Subs: Roxy Paulucci, Krissy Humble, Tilly Ironside, Jess Wilkes, Sophie Darlow, Lauren Hemingway
Barnsley Ladies: Megan Clement, Kirsty Thompson, Rebecca Wilson, Macy Lunn, Ruby Jex-Oldfield, Carla Whitehead, Amy Lyons, Amy Lassu, Jess Horsley, Brooke Betts, Lynn Goodman. Subs: Anabelle Medley, Lucy Wainwright.
Photo - Carly Gill gets in a shot despite Rebecca Wilson's attempt to block.
(Report and photo by Julian Barker)
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