Rovers Ladies 1-1 Aston Villa Ladies (Villa win 5-6 on penalties)
Premier League Cup (Quarter-Final)
Sunday March 24th, 2013
Rovers Ladies suffered penalty shoot-out heartache as they narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup.
After holding National Division side Aston Villa to a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes, Beth Donoghue missed the decisive spot-kick, as Rovers lost 6-5 on pens.
In windy conditions, Villa seemed content to launch the ball forward in the early exchanges, whilst Rovers tried to play the ball on the floor.
The first chance fell to the hosts, as Katie Anderton slid in Steph Marsh, but she fired over from a tight angle. Villa responded with a shot from distance, but it was straight at Gemma Jackson.
Rovers created another one-on-one when Anderton played in Donoghue, but she failed to hit the target.
Villa then had the woodwork to thank, as Rovers went within a whisker of the opener, before the visitors struck a sucker punch just before the break. Midfielder Bethan Merrick was afforded too much time and space on the edge of the Rovers box and she fired a crisp strike over Jackson to hand Villa a half-time lead.
After the interval, Villa came close to doubling their lead from a corner, but Danielle Oates was on hand to clear off the line.
At the other end, Marsh cut the ball back for Anderton, who fired over, before Evie Manning was denied an equaliser by the linesman’s flag.
Rovers continued to pile on the pressure, with a free-kick going just wide, before Marsh was brought down from behind after being played clean through, but the referee ignored the penalty appeals.
The equaliser eventually arrived 18 minutes from time when Marsh went through again and this time she made no mistake.
Both teams had chances to clinch the tie it late on, but Marsh was denied by the Villa keeper, before the visitors fired a free-kick over the bar.
Villa were fortunate to keep 11 players on the pitch after Jade Richards raised her hands to Donoghue in the closing stages, but the referee only issued a yellow card.
Rovers looked the more likely side to score in the opening period of extra-time, as they were prepared to commit players forward, but it was Villa who fashioned the best chance – Jackson forced into a superb save to tip the ball around the post.
The hosts again piled on the pressure after the turnaround, with a free-kick from the edge of the area bravely headed behind, before Rovers saw a shot blocked and another effort turned around the post from the resulting corner.
Villa continued to launch the ball long and Rovers mounted one final attack in the last minute of extra-time, but Sophie Flynn’s shot went straight into the keeper’s hands.
So to spot-kicks and both sides scored their first five penalties – with Nicky Twohig, Marsh, Anderton, Keeleigh Savage and Carmel Bennett all on target for Rovers – before Donoghue blazed over the bar to hand Villa the initiative, which was duly dispatched.
Manager Scott Rogers said: “Firstly I must congratulate Villa on progressing and I wish them luck in the next round, but the better footballing team did not go through.
“We did more than enough to win the game with the amount of chances we had. We missed four one-on-ones and limited Villa to very little.
“Considering they are in the league above, I think we have again proved that we are more than capable of competing at that level.
“I am very proud of my players. We played very well and deserved more than we got from the game. It just wasn’t our day and I knew that when the referee let their centre-back off with just a yellow card.”
ROVERS: Jackson, Oates, Roberts, Cox, Marsh, Bennett, Westerman (Flynn 65), Twohig, Anderton, Donoghue, N. Forster (Manning 25 (Savage 80)).