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All over the country, but especially in the South of England, teams are still trying to settle F.A.Cup and County Cup issues, many are on their fifth and sixth attempts to play matches originally scheduled for early November.
Yeovil Town Reserves had not played at all for seven weeks and their Somerset County Junior Cup First Round opponents Ilminster Town had completed one match in that period. On Sunday, they finally managed to take the field at Tintinhull and produced a dramatic encounter which Ilminster won 3-2 in extra time, having equalised with the final kick of the first ninety.
Yeovil Reserves, playing with the strong breeze, started the stronger and created the better early chances, taking the lead on 33 minutes. Ilminster had started with just ten players but equalised almost immediately after reaching full strength, Gemma Shaw getting free on the right and firing in a shot which evaded the keeper for Emma Male to tap home. Yeovil poured forward as the break approached and retook the lead from a rebound after a good save from Ilmy keeper Abbi Bond.
The visitors started the brighter after the break, with Alice Charlton and Aimee Rowe dominating the play and creating chances for Male and Jenny Frost who was inches wide after Yeovil had failed to clear their lines on 60 minutes. Yeovil's Chelsey Pitchers provided the best response from left back, twice breaking clear of the Ilminster defence to test Bond with powerful shots. Ilminster's Male was foiled by the keeper when clean though on 68 minutes and play became stretched as the visitors sought the equaliser.
Ilminster had a succession of chances, a powerful free kick from Frost well saved in the 92nd minute seeming to signal their defeat . However, the same player drove in a 30-yard shot which found the top corner with the last meaningful kick of the match for a dramatic equaliser and extra time.
Both teams showed admirable fitness and determination to maintain a frantic pace through the decisive 30 minute extra period, Yeovil creating and missing an open goal early on, while Ilminster continued the momentum of their late reprieve to remain threatening. The match was decided by two penalty area decisions in the second half of extra time, Yeovil being denied a penalty for handball, while Ilminster were awarded a 117th minute spot kick for handball as the ball skidded across the area from a corner, which Hayley Phillips converted to the delight of the travelling fans and team mates.
Yeovil Reserves were the higher ranked team, having been promoted as champions to the South West League last season from the County League where Ilminster are currently challenging Bridgwater Town for promotion. Both teams provided a fine match which was passionately contested and neither side deserved to lose. Credit to the Tintinhull pitch which again provided a playable surface when virtually no other matches were played in the south of England and to the Yeovil Town Ladies club for excellent communication of match conditions and venue through their outstanding website.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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