Roade Ladies 0 St ives Town Ladies 1
The SSE Women’s FA Cup First Qualifying Round – 3rd September 2017
The history making Ives Lionesses took their remarkable journey on another step as they triumphed in their first ever game in the Women’s FA Cup. But they made heavy weather of doing so missing a penalty in each half and only being saved from extra time by an excellent late strike by skipper Sasha Smith.
On paper this was always going to a tough ask as the Ladies going into only their third season in existence ventured into Northamptonshire to face a well established Northants Women’s League top division side in Roade FC.
On arrival the players found themselves on a compact ground with a pitch boasting a considerable slope from one end to the other. But to counteract the pitch contours there was a considerable breeze blowing up the slope. The Ives chose to go up the hill with the breeze first half and showed lots of early endeavour. The first shot arrived after only five minutes as Georgia Stancome cut in from the right and fired in a low drive that presented the Roade keeper with a comfortable save.
The home keeper was called into much more dramatic action six minutes later as a Kira Markwell punt carried on the breeze and skimmed off a defenders head putting Hannah Seymour-Shove clear. She ran on into the box and tried to clip the ball past the advancing custodian, but the Roade stopper made a good one handed save.
The first spot kick arrived in 26th minute. Smith went down the left turning her full back inside out before knocking over a low cross that the home keeper spilled. Seymour-Shove was about to pounce on the loose ball and knock it home when she was taken down from behind giving referee Trevor Martin little option but to point to the spot. Seymour-Shove picked herself up and took the responsibility. But although she struck her effort well she did not take into account the rising ground which gave her shot enough extra elevation to clear the crossbar.
This did not knock the visitors out of their stride, but seemed to spur them on to greater efforts and they again went close to that all important first goal in 36th minute. Smith delivered the perfect in-swinging free kick from the right that Connie Liddiard looked certain to get her head onto six yards from goal. But she failed to make contact and Seymour-Shove arriving at the back post could only get sufficient contact on the stretch to knock the ball into the side netting.
The Ives back line well marshalled by Anna Hicks and Mollie Flack looked solid throughout the first period and their only lapse came just seconds before the break as they struggled to clear a ball into their box from the right and gave a Roade striker chance to fire just wide from an excellent position ten yards from goal.
The only corner of the game went the way of the hosts eight minutes after the break. But it almost cost them a goal as Markwell made an excellent clean catch and a quick throw released Smith breaking into the opposition half. She just failed to get her pass away to put Seymour-Shove clean through.
Seymour-Shove was proving a real handful for the Roade defence and her persistence won the second penalty in 65th minute as she harried a home defender into a mistake in her own box and was then brought down from behind as she tried to turn on the ball. This time Stancombe took the spot kick, but her two pace run up meant that she got little power in her strike which was to close to the keeper giving her the chance to stop the ball with her legs. Her colleagues reacted first to help her out and hack the ball away.
In spite of this further set back the Ives continued to push forward in search of that vital goal. Another good positive move involving Seymour-Shove and substitute Cherish Sibanda set up a shooting opportunity for Tierney Coulson in 72nd minute. But her shot from the edge of the box was again straight at the home keeper who held on well.
With players now tiring and extra time looming the break through finally arrived ten minutes from time. Liddiard charged into the heart of the home defence and although she looked like she had lost possession she bravely blocked the attempted clearance. The ball fell to Smith on the edge of the box, she took a touch before slamming in an unstoppable shot that dipped into the roof of the net over the top of the well beaten keeper.
However just when it looked like they had it won Ives were almost caught out with five minutes to go as a ball over the top put the Roade no. 6 clear. But Markwell did everything right closing her down and staying upright then making a very good save low to her left when the shot came in from the edge of the box.
After that brief scare Ives successfully ran down the clock including three added minutes. The celebrations in the visitor’s camp on the final whistle prompted one despondent home supporter to remark “blimey you would think that they had won the cup”. But in truth they just showed what a fantastic group of ladies they are and how much they are all willing to put in for each other.
A trip to Wymondham in deepest Norfolk awaits in the next round, we wish them well.
St Ives team : Markwell, Megan Webb, Ransome, Phoebe Webb (Sibanda 69), Hicks, Flack, Stancombe, Liddiard, Smith (capt) (Jenkins 90 + 1), Hannah Seymour-Shove, Coulson (Ford 77).
Unused subs : Astley, Berryman
Goal : Smith 80
Player of the match : Hannah Seymour-Shove
Attendance : approx 45
Report by Nigel Howlett