There was FA Women’s Cup heartbreak for Northern Star Ladies yesterday (December 6).
The top city side entertained Premier League Midlands Division One rivals Radcliffe Olympic and were beaten in a penalty shoot-out.
And it was a shoot-out that Radcliffe only just managed to force as they scored to make it 1-1 with just two minutes of extra time remaining.
Although the tie at Chestnue Avenue was a scrappy affair, both sides did create chances.
In the first half, Star skipper Jodie Bartle had a volley well saved and Cassie Steward hit the post.
At the other end Sarah Hudson was quick off of her line to deny Ash Evans.
Radcliffe twice went close to breaking the deadlock at the start of the second half and then Vicky Gallagher was inches away from putting the ball onto birthday girl Chanade Henderson’s head to open the scoring for Star.
Two minutes into extra-time, Danielle Saulter swivelled in the box and forced another fine save from Hudson while Jess Farchica fired wide from an excellent Henderson cross.
Star opened the scoring in the 98th minute as the Radcliffe keeper flapped at a long range Samara Iredale free-kick and Gallagher was there to pounce for her 18th goal of the season.
That was the signal for Star to batten down the hatches and see out the remaining seven minutes of the first half of extra-time – which they did with relative ease.
Radcliffe, as expected, upped the ante in the second period and applied plenty of pressure.
But Star’s back four, marshalled superbly by the new centre-back pairing of Iredale and Bartle, stood strong to keep the visitors at bay.
And with five minutes remaining Star could so easily have sealed the win. Good play down the right-hand side saw Georgia Coulson guide the ball towards the top corner but the keeper pulled off a great save to keep the score at 1-0.
The save proved to be vital as Radcliffe equalised with two minutes remaining as Nat Robinson poked the ball underneath Hudson from close range.
Radcliffe won the shoot-out 4-2 after scoring all of their penalties whereas Star missed two through Abbey Young and Steph Pepper.
Star boss Steve Iredale said: “It was frustrating to go out in the way we did and that’s the second match in a row where a late goal has cost us.
“But, looking at it positively, Radcliffe are arguably the second best team in our league and we’ve now held them to two draws in normal game-time.
“We’re looking solid at the back but we need to be more creative in the opposition half of the pitch.”