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Spurs Ladies march on - beat Blackburn, draw WSL Brighton in FA Cup

Posted on 6 February 2017  - 17:30

Spurs Ladies produced the biggest win of their season in the Women's FA Cup on Sunday - and now they are chasing another slice of history in an already memorable campaign.

Nikita Whinnett celebrates with Bianca Baptiste at 1-1 - photos - with thanks to Anthony Greenwood of www.kipax.comBianca Baptiste is lost in the celebrations following her dramatic late winner

Two unbeaten teams went head-to-head in the third round of the most prestigious competition in the ladies game and Spurs came out on top at Blackburn Rovers thanks to a beauty from Bianca Baptiste in the 93rd minute.

The 2-1 victory has now set-up a fourth round clash at home against Women's Super League (WSL) 2 side Brighton on Sunday week, February 19 and a chance to make history on two fronts - taking their first WSL scalp and reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup for the third time, the furthest they've been in the competition.

If any proof was needed that this Spurs team is the real deal - beyond a record that now stands at 21 wins and a draw in 22 games - then it arrived in Lancashire on Sunday.

Taking on the FA Women's Premier League (FAWPL) North leaders Rovers - 11 wins and a draw in 12 FAWPL matches - Spurs fell behind before recovering to win in dramatic style.

That record will now be tested to the maximum against Brighton, a team Spurs know well as they were promoted from the FAWPL South into the WSL 2 last season.

"Blackburn haven't lost all season and having gone 1-0 down early, it was a case of  'okay, now we're going to have show what we're about' and we showed real character from there," said manager, Karen Hills.

"Lucia made the mistake for their goal but the players got around her, got her going again and she kept one of their most dangerous players quiet after that, she was outstanding and that typified us.

"We got back into it in the first half and at half-time, there was just pure belief that we'd go on and win. We felt we were playing the better football, we frustrated them and then Bianca delivered that fantastic late winner.

"The girls were ecstatic and totally deserved it. We felt we finished the game stronger and fitter. To be fair, two top teams battled it out and it took an absolute worldy goal to separate us."

As for taking on Brighton next, Karen added: "It will be interesting, obviously we know a lot about them having played them regularly before they were promoted but they've made a lot of changes for the WSL and signed some top-quality players.

"The players are confident, as you'd expect and the attitude from them after the draw was 'bring it on'!"

Below: Nikita Whinnett, Lucia Leon and Riana Soobadoo congratulate Bianca Baptiste after making it 1-1

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BLACKBURN ROVERS 1-2 SPURS LADIES
Women's FA Cup, third round

Report from Khalid Karimullah at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Bamber Bridge FC
Photographs with thanks to Anthony Greenwood of www.kipax.com

Spurs Ladies ensured their name was in the draw for the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup after leaving it late to come away with a 2-1 win, and handing fellow high-flyers Blackburn Rovers their first defeat this campaign.

The hosts started on the front foot early on. Ella Toone broke away on the left looking for Saffron Jordan, Renee Hector dealt with the initial threat, but Jess Holbrook fired back towards goal forcing Toni-Anne Wayne to get down low to collect. Rovers took the lead on seven minutes. Danielle Whitham charged up the right flank playing with some fortune across to Toone, who made no mistake placing across goal and into the bottom corner from inside 12 yards.

Leah Rawle’s outside-of-the-boot pass was sprayed first-time through to Wendy Martin, who looked to have been in on goal, but for Ellie Cook’s hooked clearance. Jordan drifted out to the right, crossing for Toone, who guided just wide across the face of goal.

The momentum swung after 19 minutes. Nikita Whinnett sprayed a pass out to Bianca Baptiste who burst forward on a menacing run, prior to her first-time attempted lob sailing over Danielle Hill and looping in.

Cook’s pinpoint, cross-field pass allowed Whitham to attempt to cut in on goal, met with Rawle’s last-ditch athletic challenge. Sophie Mclean sprung forward slipping Whinnett down the right, her precision cross was headed into the top corner by Martin for a smart finish, but the linesman deemed her offside.

Following the restart, Martin’s looped pass found the overlapping Baptiste who struck with clout towards the bottom corner, which forced Ellie Stewart into a vital block. Toone’s one-two with Jordan saw her low driven cross arrive at Lynda Shepherd, who fired over from close.

Mclean hustled Toone for Josie Green to collect and majestically set Baptiste away on the inside right channel, but her dangerous cross was snatched by Hill out of the grasp of Whinnett. Whinnett rolled across to Riana Soobadoo from 20-yards, whose curler flew just over the upright with Hill left flat-footed.

Below: Bianca Baptiste leaps with joy after hitting her spectacular winner

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Whinnett drifted from left to right before cutting inside finding Mclean, but her dipper was deflected inches over by Cook. Toone’s ball over the top was latched onto by Jordan breaking away, who was met by Hector’s guided clearance. Whitham’s cross found Natasha Fenton, whose fizzing 18-yard strike was matched by Hector’s diligent block.

Lucia Leon stopped Toone in her traps, prior to driving into the area, but her poke at goal was cleared by Stewart. Jenna Schillaci’s corner was headed on by Martin finding Whinnett for an overhead kick, which was headed off the line by Hannah Fryer.

Toone broke the offside trap, ultimately placing wide in a hurry across the penalty area after Wayne rushed out.

In the 93rd minute, Wayne’s goal kick was flicked on by Martin for Baptiste to latch onto and she went on a pacing run, prior to cutting inside and finding the top corner with a scorching strike.

Spurs Ladies: Toni-Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Jenna Schillaci (c), Renee Hector, Leah Rawle (Eartha Pond 84), Josie Green, Riana Soobadoo, Sophie Mclean, Bianca Baptiste, Wendy Martin (Kelley Blanchflower 90+6), Nikita Whinnett. Substitutes (not used): Megen Lynch, Maya Vio.