Wolverhampton Wanderers Women came from behind to defeat higher division opponents in Nottingham Forest on penalties in an entertaining FA Women’s Cup tie that ended 2-2 after extra-time.
After a goalless first-half, Forest took the lead through Rosie Axten who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner in their first real attack of the afternoon. Wolves levelled through a brilliant Nyah Edwards strike into the top corner before a mix-up between Olivia Cook and Aja Aguirre ended up with the ball in the back of the net in extra-time.
However, Forest truck back on the brink of the interval in extra-time, with Axten converting from 12-yards for the Reds when Summer Holmes handled the ball inside the penalty area to leave Chloe Matthew no choice but to reward a penalty.
The Wanderers confirmed passage to the next round when Olivia Cook had her penalty saved in the shoot-out by Becky Thomas.
Despite facing off against a team in the division above, Wolves conducted themselves well against the Reds at the CKW Stadium, with Tammi George teasing the Forest backline with her tricks and flicks early on.
Apart from a brief attack in the opening five minutes when Axten fed Charlotte Steggles through in goal, Forest struggled to take control of the proceedings with the back five of Dan McNamara’s side successfully containing any threat.
Wolves then started to grow in confidence in the sun-lit pitch, with Alisha Miller have a scuffed attempt easily grassed by Aja Aguirre, before George managed to find space on the edge of the area to unleash a shot, but it lacked any sort of power to threaten Aguirre.
Aguirre, certainly the busiest between the two goalkeepers, was again called into action as Anna Morphet’s fierce free-kick was well-saved by the Canadian goalkeeper to keep the score 0-0.
The game’s first pivotal moment came just after half-hour when Cook looked as though she was the last obstacle before Jade Cross was through on goal, but she was only handed a yellow card, despite the protests from the girls in black and gold.
Andrew Cook’s side came out after the interval with much more attacking prowess, with Sydnie Naylor having her effort fly over and Axten getting in behind the Wolves back three. Four minutes into the second half and they took the league against the run of play through Axten.
The striker was slipped through on goal by Hayley James before bearing down in on goal and cooly placed the ball under Becky Thomas to punish Wolves for a moment of disorganisation.
It was very nearly 2-0 10 minutes later when Sophie Bonser’s cross caused confusion in the Wolves penalty box, with James bringing the ball down only for Kelly Darby to clear the ball just in time.
After the hour, Aguirre was forced into two good saves by the home side with Miller and Cross starting to receive the ball more in the final third. McNamara’s side finally made their short period of dominance pay when Edwards cut in from the right before firing the ball at goal, with her effort having too much power for Aguirre.
Despite levelling, during the celebrations, Edwards suffered a nose injury and forced off for top-goalscorer Jamilla Palmer.
The goal certainly helped Wolves reclaim control of the tie, with the home side looking dangerous on every attacking occasion. However, neither side could muster one final attack to snatch the winner with the goal going to extra-time.
Playing over 90 minutes of football so far didn’t seem to faze the spirited Wolves players in the early stages of extra-time and they nearly took the lead when Miller’s strike nearly looped over Aguirre, but it whistled past the post.
Wolves did take the lead for the first time in the tie when Cook’s loose back pass was nearly pounced on by Cross, but the ball missed the striker and Aguirre to roll into an empty net.
However, Forest put the game to penalties when Axton converted from 12 yards out after handball was given from a deep free-kick.
The deciding penalty came with Cook having her penalty saved by Thomas to see Wolves progress to the next round, where they will face Watford.