Hemel Ladies joyously made it through to the First Round of the SSE sponsored Women’s FA Cup with a resolute display against the much-fancied AFC Dunstable on Sunday.
With former Dunstable player, Kerry Stratton, unable to play against her former teammates through injury, it was the Vauxhall Road visitors who had the first shot on goal in this Fourth Qualifying Round tie. Right-winger Amber Pearson, bore down on goal only to find Hemel keeper, Ruth Gorin, saving with her feet.
Seven minutes later, a free-kick on the visitors’ right wing by Danielle Carty, was headed over Charlotte South.
The breakthrough came a minute later in Hemel’s first meaningful attack of the game. Centre forward Tara Hancock had her ankle clipped just inside the penalty area before being pushed by the same visiting defender a metre outside the area. The visiting management and supporters were enraged, as they only saw the push outside the area.
Charlene Turturici, then hammered the spot kick into the bottom left hand corner of the net, past visiting keeper Hannah Payne.
In the 15th minute the Carty/ South combination again saw the ball fly over the Hemel crossbar. Then a minute later, as the visitors tried to get on level terms, a right-wing corner from Carty was cleared by the Hemel defence.
A further two minutes passed when keeper, Gorin, caught a Carty free-kick above her head. The visitors continued to impress as a second right wing corner was again cleared by the resolute Hemel defence, some six minutes later.
On the half hour mark, South, was cautioned for disputing an offside decision, when marauding down the Dunstable left wing.
In the 38th minute a rare Hemel attack saw right-winger, Lorna Gover, shoot over when put through. Lorna, then had the next chance, but she shot tamely at goal-keeper Payne.
In the second half, with Hemel now playing downhill, they were once again indebted to keeper Gorin, as she again caught a tantalising ball above her head as the visitors pressed for an equaliser.
Left-winger, Natasha McConville, was just wide with a floated right-footed free-kick that just went past the right-hand post.
In the 72nd minute forward, Leah Haley, went down the right wing to chase a ‘lost cause’ as the ball was seemingly going out for a goal-kick. However, Leah’s persistence saw her cross the ball for Hancock to deftly head the ball against the inside of the near post and into the visitors’ net.
The visitors retaliated when South’s snapshot whistled past Gorin’s right post for a goal-kick.
With just six minutes of normal time remaining, Gurney sought to shore up the Hemel midfield by taking off wingers Gover and McConville and replacing them with defenders Callie Waters and Cassey Crowsley.
In the 90th minute, Gorin again saved from South. This came after Ruth was near knocked out by a visiting forward going straight through her when diving on the ball close to the edge of her area.
The referee added on a further four minutes, however it was to no avail for the visitors, as Hemel Ladies claimed a famous win.
Hemel Hempstead Town Ladies FC; All Red (1) Ruth Gorin, (5) Natalie Cole, (7) Kayleigh Baker, (9) Stephanie Cripps (c), (26) Lucia Halliwell, (12) Natasha McConville, (16) Charlene Turturici, (15) Leah Haley, (19) Louise McCay, (4) Lorna Gover, (20) Tara Hancock. Subs; (2) Callie Waters, (17) Chloe Shimell, (10) Bianca Hedgecock, (3) Cassey Crowsley, (8) Emma Manners.
AFC Dunstable Ladies; All Blue (1)Hannah Payne, (18) Erin Davis, (6) Stephanie Fisher, (5) Lauren Chimes (c), (11) Isabelle Attenborough, (8) Danielle Carty, (9) Charlotte South, 3 Bethany Stanton, (7) amber Pearson, (15) Lori Wilson-Phillips, (4) Elly Wade Subs; (2) Rebecca Langthorne, (13) Claudia Attenborough, (16) Madeline O’Neill, (12) Stephanie Chandler.