Mansfield Town Ladies left it late as they secured their place in East Midlands Women’s Football League Cup final on Wednesday night.
The ladies managed to break Bedworth hearts by scoring in the last minute of extra time to win the tie 4-3.
The semi-final, which took place at Ellistown, started off badly for the Stagettes before a ball was even kicked as Nikki Flood suffered an injury in the warm up, giving Laura Watton a chance to move up from the bench.
After only six minutes, the Stagettes had taken the lead when late addition Watton flicked a ball through for Jemma Douglas. The striker hit a shot straight at Rebecca Leatherbarrow in the Bedworth goal, but she could only parry her shot which landed straight into the path of Abbey Hawkins, who had the simple job of tapping the ball into the empty net.
Just over 10 minutes later, a more settled Bedworth side got themselves back into the game. Kirstie Farnsworth was able to add to her 30 goals this season when she raced onto a long ball before rounding the on-coming Jay-Leanne Fenton in the Mansfield net and calmly slotting it into the corner.
It took Mansfield just 5 minutes to get themselves back into the lead as an Emma Day corner was met in the middle by Monica Bowley. Leatherbarrow almost managed to keep her powerful header out, but the ‘keeper couldn’t get a strong enough hand on it.
With half-time looming, Bedworth got themselves a free kick on the left edge of the box and midfielder Sophie Wilson stepped up and curled a brilliant free-kick into the top right corner of Fenton’s net.
Into the second half and it was another Sophie Wilson free-kick that turned the tie in Bedworth’s favour. This time, she saw her free kick from the right-side of the box curl in off the left-hand post.
Both sides pushed on knowing the next goal was vital and only seven minutes later, Mansfield had levelled things up. Marie Wayne doesn’t seem to know how to score ordinary goals this season as she popped up with another spectacular effort. The Mansfield midfielder was able to meet Monica Bowley’s throw in before turning inside and curling the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Both sides gave it their all as they pushed for a winner. The Stagettes could have won it when Jemma Douglas fired a ball across the box, but Abbey Hawkins was just inches away from connecting and it rolled out of play.
The game went to extra-time and it was visible that both teams had tiring legs, but neither side gave up. The play became more direct as all 22 women were desperate to seal the victory with the lottery of a penalty shoot-out looming.
Then, in the dying embers of the game, Fenton was able to launch a long ball up the left channel to Androulla Kokkinou, who had not stopped running all game, and she used her last burst of energy to power down the line before playing in Jemma Douglas.
Just like her effort in the first half, Douglas saw the ‘keeper push her shot into the path of a team-mate as Laura Watton calmly tapped home from two yards.
The goal sparked crazed celebrations from the Stagettes’ players and supporters as they were just seconds away from their second cup final in as many seasons.
The celebrations were put on hold briefly as Bedworth managed one last effort but they could only see their curling shot slip wide as the Stagettes set up a mouth-watering tie with Long Eaton United in the final.
Stagettes' lineup: Fenton, Allen, Davis, Day, Bodle, Bowley, Kokkinou, Watton, Wayne, Douglas, Hawkins
Subs: Barlow, Chapman, Adams