A 90th minute winner saw Lads Club Ladies book themselves a place in the Herefordshire FA Women’s County Cup final with a 2-1 win over their Bartestree counterparts on Friday evening.
Bartestree took the lead with an impressive first half strike from Jodie Loris, but this was cancelled out before the interval as Elle Williams found the back of the net after being one-on-one with the keeper. They left in late to secure the win, with Amy Bradley scoring a last-grasp winner.
Lads Club will now meet Ludlow in the final, with the competition only in its first year. Around 120 watched the game which most would say was a good advert for women’s football in the county.
Manager Marcus Jenkins said it was a stressful end to the game as Lads Club left it until the 90th minute to seal the win at the County Ground after a dominant second half against tiring opposition.
Jenkins said: “To be fair to Bartestree they gave it their all, they got in the way a hell of a lot!
“We did have overall possession and because of that it was just a question of time. Keep the heads up, keep playing as we know they can do.
“This was the challenge of the season we wanted, we’re not going to win the league and we’re out of the league cup. It’s the first time the Herefordshire FA have done the county cup and we want to go on and win this."
The game got off to a bright start, with Lads Club putting pressure on the visitors. Sharleen Watkins found herself in yards of space on the edge of the 18-yard box, but with the defenders quickly closing her down, she fired wide of the target.
Bartestree responded to the threat immediately as Lia Williams broke towards goal after the ball was played forward from the goal kick, but the goalkeeper claimed the effort after initially parrying the strike from 25-yards.
Lads Club were gifted a goalworthy chance as Sarah Bishop found herself through on goal following a mix up in the Bartestree defence. Tinny Conway between the sticks for Bartestree did well to block the shot as she rushed off her line, with the recovering defence dealing with the loose ball.
Back at the other end of the field it was Rachel Welling with a chance to take the lead. A short corner was knocked on into the box, but a goal line clearance denied Welling after she turned the ball towards goal.
As the 20th minute passed, chances for both sides dried up. They did well to snub out any danger from long balls forward and weren’t afraid of getting stuck in to win back possession.
Ten minutes before half time the hosts took the lead with an impressive goal from Jodie Loris. She made progress down the right-wing before beating her man to leave her with just the keeper to beat. Loris tried her luck from the edge of the area and the ball sailed into the far corner of the net with the keeper rendered helpless by the rising effort.
Bartestree went close to extending their lead after the ball was held up to bring Rachel Welling into play. Welling latched onto the end of the ball, but from 20-yards her effort couldn’t find a way through a congested penalty area.
Lads Club then pulled themselves back level to go into half time level with the hosts. In a similar manner Loris’s opener, Elle Williams’s shot from range snuck in underneath the crossbar as Lads Club were caught on the counter.
Half time: Lads Club Ladies 1 - Bartestree Ladies 1
With a place in the HFA Cup final at stake and the score level after half time, the game became bogged down in midfield as the teams dug in and hoped for a lucky break to grab what could be a winner.
In the 57th minute danger loomed for Bartestree as Lads Club threatened with a series of corners. The first flashed across the face of goal but none of the lurking forwards were able to stab the ball across the line.
A scuffed clearance from the Bartestree back line saw the ball fall for Mel Mayo, but the keeper was well-positioned to claim the volley.
As the half wore on, Emily Morgan continued to make a nuisance of herself as she didn’t allow the defenders anytime on the ball but rarely did this lead to a chance.
Lads Club had a comfortable second half without really threatening on too many occasions, but they snatched a winner in the 90th minute against a tiring ‘Tree.
Amy Bradley latched onto the end of a ball over top of the defence, staying calm with just the keeper to beat and confidently fired into the back of the net.
Full time: Lads Club Ladies 2 - Bartestree Ladies 1