Moors Ladies’ saw their Women’s FA Cup campaign draw to a close on Sunday afternoon despite a valiant performance in defeat at National League outfit Chester-le-Street Town.
Billy Shackleton’s team had swept aside Ponteland United, Wakefield and Blackpool on their way to Round Two of the competition but their away tie at Moor Park ended in a hard-fought 3-2 loss.
A bumpy pitch made life difficult for both sides, but Moors settled well against their higher division hosts and gave as good as they got during the opening exchanges, seeing a penalty appeal turned down by the referee.
However, the home side gradually started to find their feet and forced the outstanding Sophie Miller into a couple of fine saves as they looked to get on the front foot.
Their dangerous attacking play was rewarded on 25 minutes when Town’s pacey left winger drove to the byline before cutting the ball back across goal where her teammate slammed home the opening goal.
Moors responded well to the setback and both Holly Middleton and Meg Foster came close to levelling things before Autumn Colledge headed just over from a corner.
However, Chester-le-Street increased their lead on the half-hour when a ball fell loose just inside the area and was drilled through bodies and into the far corner of the net for 2-0.
Moors were given a lifeline just before the break when a penalty was given. Autumn Colledge saw her spot-kick saved, only for Courtney Mole to dash forward and fire home from the rebound.
The second half was an even tenser affair, with a series of strong challenge underlining the competitive spirit of both teams and highlighting the importance of the fixture to the players.
However, it was Town who got the crucial next goal when they raided well down the right to put the ball back across the area where it was slammed past Miller for 3-1 on 83 minutes.
To their credit, Moors continued to battle, and on 88 minutes they had fresh hope when the referee spotted a foul during a goalmouth scramble and pointed to the spot – Courtney Mole rifled the penalty into the top corner for 3-2.
Despite a frantic finale with Moors trying everything to get themselves back on level terms, it was the National League side who held out to clinch their place in the Third Round.
“It does hurt to be out of the competition, but we wanted to do ourselves proud and make a game of it – and I think we’ve done that,” Shackleton commented.
“There were glum faces on Sunday, but we’re made the Second Round of the FA Cup, we’ve tasted victory at Bloomfield Road, and we’ve given a National League side a run for their money.
“The girls can hold their heads high and now we must quickly turn our focus back to the League and the League Cup.”
Full Time: Chester-le-Street Town 3 Moors 2
Moors: Miller, McGovern, N Jackson, C Colledge, Foster, Middleton (Seymour 89), C Mole, Drinkald (Knox 82), A Colledge, Bates, Kisby (L Jackson 72).
Subs not used: Hemmingway.