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For the second week running, Havant & Waterlooville made the headlines in the FA Women's Cup sponsored by E.ON.
Having knocked out Cardiff City 2-1 thanks to an injury time goal, they showed that their Third Round success was no fluke as they gave six times winners Doncaster Rovers Belles plenty to think about for much of their Fourth Round tie and while the Hawks returned to Hampshire beaten 6-1, they could at least reflect that they had opened the scoring and enjoyed that advantage for 20 minutes, while the final score owed much to three late goals for the hosts.
In contrast to another spate of postponements nationally caused by the return of icy cold weather, Keepmoat Stadium pitch number 2 was playable and, for a change, free from the windy conditions which more often than not are an unwanted feature of games at Doncaster. Indeed, the only aspect of the conditions to cause any problems was the bright sunshine causing players to use their arms to block out the sun.
Havant began brightly with an attack which came to nothing, but it showed that they had not come to just sit back and defend. They did have a couple of early let offs as first Paige Eli struck a post with Hawks keeper Sadie Blakely relieved and then Millie Bright clipped the bar from eight yards when it seemed certain she would score.
Charley Wilson, whose goal clinched victory at Cardiff in the previous round, put Havant in front on 19 minutes. A corner from the left caused confusion in the goalmouth and with neither Chelsea Weston nor Marie Hourihan on the goalline able to clear, Wilson got the decisive touch to turn the ball over the line. Not quite the good old fashioned scrimmage which graced match reports from early 20th century games, but certainly an untidy one for Belles to concede.
Whereas a week earlier Cardiff barely had any time to reply, here Belles had just over three quarters of the game to avoid a shock exit for the second successive season. For, a year ago on the same pitch and with the same referee, they had fallen behind to a goal at a similar time at the same end of the pitch which proved enough for Millwall Lionesses.
With half time fast approaching, Hawks still held the advantage and had they managed to go into the interval ahead, then who knows what might have happened.
However, Belles skipper Vicky Exley levelled the scores with a low shot inside Blakely's left post on 40 minutes and Bright converted a low ball in from Precious Hamilton just before the break to transform the whole aspect of the tie.
Early in the second half, substitute Tori Williams' looping header at a corner gave the Belles a two-goal cushion.
Lizzie Laws, Hawks' first scorer at Cardiff, forced Hourihan into tipping over a long range free kick as Havant sought the goal to reduce the arrears and give them a chance of forcing extra time.
However, Belles' extra fitness paid off in the last quarter. Hamilton made it 4-1, Weston added the fifth with a shot which went in off the post and with the Havant supporters urging the Hawks to get a goal to match the men at Liverpool, where Hawks had led 1-0 and 2-1 of their eventual 5-2 defeat two years ago, it was a Havant player who got the final touch for the game's last goal, but unfortunately it was to turn the ball into her own net.
The scoreline was harsh on The Hawks but, like their male counterparts, Havant & Waterlooville's cup exploits will certainly form a noteworthy chapter in a review of the season's competition.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Marie Hourihan, Chelsea Weston, Danielle Cox, Rachel Williams, Claire Utley, Amy Vaughan. Naomi Chadwick, Vicky Exley, millie Bright, Precious Hamilton, Precious Hamilton. Subs: Emily Simpson, Kezia Lipka, Emma Johnson, Tori Williams, Charlotte Bennett.
Havant & Waterlooville: Sadie Blakely, Charlotte Brown, Lauren Cheshire, Lizzie Laws, Sabrina Morriss, Laura Oakes, Jenna Fowlie, Jodie Prince, Jenna Dunster, Charley Wilson, Leeta Rutherford. Subs: Stacie Murray, Sam Stone, Chloe Ranger, Chantelle Clark, Yzzy Taylor.
(Report by Julian Barker)
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