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Forest Green Rovers are through to the Fourth Round of the F.A.Women's Cup for the first time in their history following a shock victory over Premier League side Keynsham Town.
The South West Combination matched the giant killing exploits of their men's team in the F.A.Cup this season by coming from two goals behind to force extra time before winning on penalties. Rovers striker Jodie Hennessey scored what turned out to be the winning penalty and she told Women's Soccer Scene after the match that she felt her side's efforts had been rewarded.
"A lot of the players didn't think we would get a result today, but we fought hard and I think we deserved to win," said Jodie. "At half time, everybody was disappointed with the score (2-0 behind) but we worked until the end."
Jodie played an important role in the Forest Green fightback with two of the goals, her second from close range with ten minutes left. "I just got everything I could onto the ball," she said, "I had to get it into the net to get us back in the game, and that is what we did."
The comeback was completed as the game entered injury time, via clinical finish from Rovers' leading scorer in the past few seasons, Phil Helliwell. "Phil's got a hell of a strike on her," smiled defender Lisa Mansell. "I thought 'Please Phil, just hit it' and when it hit the back of the net, we just took off. I've never screamed that loud before in my life!"
During the extra period, cramp began to affect players on both sides but a number of saves from Forest Green goalkeeper Kat Blunt kept her team in the game. "She's a very good keeper," admits Jodie. "She played very well today and without her, we may not have won the game."
Forest Green got off to the worst possible start in the penalty shootout with both of the first two efforts going over the bar. However they clawed their way back into it and Jodie's successful kick put them 3-2 ahead. "I'm glad they did it (missed) because I thought I was going to do it," she laughed. "You have to have belief - I scored, we won and I am happy with that now."
The final Keynsham penalty went wide and wild Forest Green celebrations began. "I can't explain it," replied Lisa when asked how she felt. "When she put it past the post, we just went mad."
Now Forest Green will play National Division opposition in the shape of Liverpool, who were semi finalists two seasons ago. "It will be one of the biggest teams that a lot of our players will play against," admits Jodie. "We'll all be up for it and will do what we did today and hopefully we can get a result."
"It's going to be good," says Lisa. "We are going to give it our all. We said after the game in the changing room that we will take what we did today and keep battling, give them a good game and you never know.
"It'll be the biggest game I've ever played in and I am really looking forward it. "We've got nothing to lose, so we have got to battle and hopefully it will pay off."
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