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Barnet clinched an F.A.Women's Cup semi final berth for the first time in their history with a
3-2 victory over National Division side Nottingham Forest at Hanwell on Sunday.
They earned the right to meet Everton at Southport FC next Sunday with two Holly Sandow goals and a Claire Thomas header.
Forest, who twice came from behind, were undone by defensive errors but their Southern Division opponents deserved their victory in an exciting match. Both teams started nervously with no real pattern emerging in the first twenty minutes. A Reanne Thomas cross caused a moment of concern for the Bees defence but the first goal came the way of the home team on 20 minutes. Cheryl Williams lofted in a left foot cross which Claire Wallhead was not able to catch or punch and the ball dropped for Sandow to bundle in from two yards.
Barnet continued to have the slight edge, largely through Stacey Sowden and Sandow pressuring the Forest defence with intelligent runs. From a Danielle Murphy through ball, Sowden pulled a cross back which was half cleared by a diving Wallhead and Thomas had a goalbound shot well blocked by a defender. The Forest attack was well contained by the Bees defence, despite having an equal share of the possession and a Lauren Cresswell cross onto the roof of the net was their only real threat before the break.
The visitors took only one minute to test Cherie Rowlands on the restart as Laura Coombs was through on goal, but her lofted shot was tipped to safety by the Barnet keeper. The visitors continued to press, with an Andi Bell cross putting Rowlands in trouble on 52 minutes and the Forest pressure paid off six minutes later. Lyndsey Cunningham broke free on the right and put in an excellent low pass for Coombs to finish from eight yards at the second attempt.
Back came Barnet and a far post corner was met by Thomas on 62 minutes to restore the lead. Forest nearly equalised when a Bell cross was blasted over the bar from five yards. Barnet almost went further ahead when Sandow had a dangerous cross palmed over the bar and then flicked a header inches wide from a Williams cross.
These near misses looked costly when Gemma Rudman inadvertently diverted a corner into her own net with 15 minutes left to make it 2-2. However, Sandow''s persistence was to win the day on 78 minutes when she chased down a through ball which keeper Wallhead failed to collect, presenting her with an open goal and the former Penzance and Bath City striker made no mistake.
Forest very nearly equalised for a third time when a clever Suzanne Davies through pass gave Forest an opening but Rowlands pulled off a fine save low to her left. Barnet played out the final ten minutes very calmly, with Katie Holmes outstanding in midfield, but in truth every player had performed with great concentration and determination over the whole ninety minutes to seal the win.
Barnet, clear leaders of the Southern Division, will be hoping to perform far better than the heavy defeat suffered last time they took on Everton in the F.A.Women's Cup. Forest meanwhile need to put this disappointment behind them to gain points to retain their top flight status. Both clubs also have Super League applications in place and might well meet in league action next year.
Barnet: Cherie Rowlands, Alison Read, Zoe Lance, Katie Holmes, Leanne Reidy, Gemma Rudman, Holly Sandow, Danielle Murphy, Stacey Sowden, Claire Thomas, Cheryl Williams. Subs: Cally Browne, Katie O'Leary, Emma Davies.
Nottingham Forest: Claire Wallhead, Lyndsey Cunningham, Beth Bailey, Lauren Cresswell, Andi Bell, Reanne Thomas, Laura Coombs, Catherine Lawson, Cat Stainthorpe, Chloe Foster, Suzanne Davies. Subs: Levi Penny, Danielle Duffy, Carla Tompkins, Lauren Howard, Jenny Foster.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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