Winning in the rain – Wor Lasses have done it again!

Another Sunday home game and another downpour of biblical proportions! This time it was Nottingham Forest Women who were put to the Magpies sword as The Lasses march on in the FA WNL Cup.

A superb 3 – 0 win was well deserved and beautifully played out with a dominant first half performance enhanced and complemented by professionally controlled game management in the second 45 minutes.

That in a nutshell sums up the game, although it was almost as dramatic – if not more so – off the field in the run up to kick-off.

Having had our game on Saturday for Chester-le-Street United called off for a waterlogged pitch and the rain continuing to hammer down, I feared the worst for this fixture at Gateshead International Stadium. Particularly as the pitch had been played on by Gateshead on the Saturday.

I wasn’t then surprised at arriving at the GIS to find the game was cancelled. The receptionist advised me that it was being played at an alternative venue but behind closed doors.

Then as our conversation extended and I advised that I covered the games for Media purposes, she told me that in that case she could tell me where the game was being played so it was off to Bullocksteads instead!

Let’s not bog the blog down with any more rubbish. Suffice to say I was allowed in after checking with the powers-that-be, although there was to be no media interviews after the game. Not an issue for me as long as I got to see the game.

And what a game. This is a cup that I have already said Wor Lasses can and even perhaps should win. They’ve knocked out league Leaders Burnley and now they’ve knocked out last year’s winners. They are now undoubtedly favourites to take this silverware.

From the off Newcastle pressed and pressed. When they were in possession they were a joy to watch. The knocked the ball around so well and the only thing missing was an end product to match the approach play.

Out of possession they covered every inch of the 3G in the torrential rain, closed down angles and never really let Forest into the game. When they did Grace Donnelly in the United goal was in imperious form.

In fact, Donnelly made the first real massive contribution to the Lady Mags win with a magnificent one-on-one block when Greengrass broke through the United defence on 19 minutes. It was a crucial moment in the game and one United benefitted from,

Newcastle almost took the lead themselves on 24 minutes when Charlotte Potts delivered a free-kick deep into the Forest box. The ball bouncing around before Georgia Gibson swivelled on it and smashed a shot goal wards only to see Worsley block the effort on the line.

But, the Lasses didn’t have to wait long to take the lead as two minutes later Niaomi Bedeau powered forward from her defensive position before finding Gibson in the inside left channel.

The mercurial #10 breaking into the corner of the box before curling an absolute beauty into the top corner past the flailing arms of Batty in the Forest goal, who had no chance of reaching the shot or keeping it out.

Forest countered and Potts did well at the near post to cut out a dangerous low cross from Worsley that looked bound for the unmarked Thomas at the back post. It was though only a temporary blip as United resumed their pressure on the visitors’ goal.

Gibson flashed a header just wide from Kacie Elson’s left wing as a defender challenged her, but it was only a slight reprieve for the beleaguered Forest defence as United doubled their lead in splendid style on 38 minutes.

It came from a Tyler Dodds cross that Batty punched clear, but only to the edge of the box. Captain Fantastic Amber-Keegan Stobbs picked up the loose ball steadied herself and then fired high into the net from just inside the box.

No more than The Lasses deserved as they were making what is normally a very solid and well organised Forest side look ordinary, as both sides trooped off at half-time with the job virtually done.

Forest had to come at Newcastle, but when they did either the defence stood firm or Donnelly was there to help them. She made another splendid save on 48 minutes when getting up high to palm Green’s long range drive over the bar.

Then Donnelly again was called into action, rushing from her line to dispossess Thomas with a great challenge after the speedy winger almost got on the end of Manders’ through ball.

The visitors were certainly seeing a lot more of the ball in the second half than they had in the first, but in truth United were comfortable keeping them at arm’s length in front of them.

Langley had switched to a back four for the second period moving Stobbs who was quite brilliant in midfield in the first 45 to centre back for the second half. Stobbs took it all in her very decisive stride and just continued to power on through.

The last real chance Forest had came on the hour mark. Donnelly doing well to palm away a dangerous Johnson cross. The ball fell to Worsley though who had a decent chance but she put her angled 12-yard drive into the side netting.

From their Newcastle were completely in control. Soaking up the pressure very comfortably and then launching some dangerous counter attacks of their own. Eventually their strategy paid off and the game was killed off.

Bang-on the 90 minute mark, a marvellous flowing move saw substitutes Hannah Greenwood and Bridget Galloway combine beautifully. They freed Elson and Newcastle got their rewards, as she measured her finish from just inside the box perfectly.

Elson and her teammates were almost celebrating before the ball hit the back of the net. It was just one of those sublime strikes that you know is going in as soon as it was hit and completed a fantastic afternoon for United’s Lasses.

A United group this set of Lasses really are and so talented as well. I felt privileged and honoured to have watched such a great performance. It was a shame that the vast army of black and white Lasses supporters were not there to witness it.

They will have been delighted with the win and progression to the quarter-finals of the FA WNL Cup and they can show their appreciation next Sunday at Kingston Park when Stourbridge come a-calling in the League for a league fixture.

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