The FA Cup dream is over for Hull City Ladies as they suffered penalty shootout heartbreak at the hands of Derby County Ladies. The Tigresses put in a phenomenal effort against their higher ranked opposition and came from behind thanks to a goal from birthday girl Nat Bell. Unfortunately though City went down 3-2 in the lottery of the spotkicks.
The game started at a fast pace with both sides looking to get on the front foot early on. Derby quickly showed their intent with a counter attack that led to three successive corners that were all well defended by City. The Tigresses first real chance came in the 16th minute when Katie Thompson found Hope Knight who beat her marker and crossed but it was cleared at the last second by a Derby defender.
The away outfit didn’t have to wait long for another sight of goal. A throw in was flicked on by Thompson to Ellie Tanser and she then found Rachael Ackroyd who let fly with a shot that went across the keeper and wide. Thompson was having a real battle with the Derby defence and appeared to be coming out on top. In the 26th minute she drove through midfield before shooting straight at the goalkeeper.
The hosts were looking dangerous themselves and had seen a free kick go just over the bar. Just as City were really getting settled into the game Derby took the lead. A ball was played into the box and City failed to clear their lines allowing Nicole Ledgister to fire home from six yards. Suckerpunch.
The goal sparked the home side into life and City had to weather the storm for the next ten minutes. Derby came at the Tigresses with wave after wave of attacks but the defence stood firm and kept the hosts at bay until half time.
HT Derby County Ladies 1 Hull City Ladies 0
Rachel Gay and Danny Johnson must have given one hell of a team talk as the Tigresses came out firing in the second half. Liv Jackson came on as a half time sub and she immediately made an impact in the heart of the midfield. Thompson was looking lively again and in the 50th minute she beat her marker and crossed from the by line but it was missed by everyone.
City were growing in confidence and continued to push for an equaliser. Knight was fouled on the left hand side near the box and as the free kick was swung into the box Ellice Jackman almost capitalised on a goalmouth scramble. She fired a shot on target but couldn’t force it through all the bodies in the box and it was cleared.
Derby soon reminded City that they had to keep on their guard as they hit them on the counter attack. The goal scorer Ledgister almost had a brace but her shot was well saved by Sarah Walters who tipped it over the bar. The game was end to end and excellent to watch as both sides attacked at will. Thompson was involved again as she cut inside her marker and crossed towards Knight. The ball was cleared and Derby quickly broke upfield, but luckily Jackman was on hand to make a last ditch tackle to keep City in the game.
With twenty minutes gone in the second half the Tigresses were really starting to build pressure. Thompson saw a shot cannon off the bar after a through ball from Tanser, Knight then fired straight at the keeper when forced wide by her marker. Nat Bell was pulling the strings in midfield and was having an excellent second half. She beat three defenders before pulling the ball back to Knight who could only shoot across the goal and wide.
After creating so much pressure it was starting to look like one of those days for the Tigresses. That all changed in the 78th minute. A poor clearance from the Derby keeper was pounced on by Bell who controlled the ball before picking out the bottom corner with a shot from 20 yards. Everyone seemed to stop including the Derby goalkeeper who totally misjudged the shot but Bell didn’t care as she marked her 18th birthday with a brilliantly taken goal that drew the Tigresses level.
Now City had the goal they deserved they were looking to find a winner but Derby were obviously frustrated to concede and they stepped it up in the final ten minutes. They created a brilliant chance to win it in the 83rd minute. The ball was headed onto the crossbar from a corner, it bounced down and could have crossed the line. Walters dived on the ball and despite appeals from the Derby players the goal wasn’t given.
Ultimately neither team could find a winner and that signalled Extra Time.
FT Derby County Ladies 1 Hull City Ladies 1
Neither team was willing to sit back and wait for penalties and they both created chances to win the game. Derby saw a shot hit the crossbar from the edge of the area and Knight shot wide after being played in by Ackroyd. After a tense and nervy thirty minutes the teams still couldn’t be split and the game went to penalties.
The shootout didn’t start well for City with Thompson being denied by an excellent save and Jo Symington shooting over the bar. Ackroyd scored her penalty and it was 1-1 after three each as Derby couldn’t capitalise on City’s misses. Knight then saw her penalty saved and despite Liv Jackson giving them a lifeline as she scored her penalty Derby converted their final two spot kicks to win the shootout 3-2.
So after 120 pulsating minutes the Tigresses were left gutted by the shootout. As hard as it is to lose like that the players and management will take so many positives from the game. They hope to be promoted into Derby’s league next season and on this evidence they will more than hold their own in the Women’s Premier League Northern Division.
Player of the match: It has to be the birthday girl Nat Bell who was fantastic and marked the occasion with the equaliser. She orchestrated a lot of City’s best attacks from midfield and did her defensive duties well. Mentions also have to go to Ellice Jackman who was immense at the back, Katie Thompson who caused havoc in the Derby defence and Liv Jackson who bossed the midfield engine room when she came on. It was a real team effort though and all the players should be proud of their display.
We spoke to a gutted but proud Rachel Gay after the game and you can watch the interview below.