Chester le Street Town Ladies FC travelled the very short distance to the Graham Sports Centre at Maiden Castle in Durham, where they faced Durham Cestria in the first-round proper of the Women’s FA Cup.
The game started off with the home side having plenty of possession and an early shot at the Cestrian goal, but this didn’t last for long. On 7 minutes Chester were awarded a free kick which Nichole Havery took, the free kick was good, but Durham scrambled the ball behind for a corner.
On 15 minutes Chester broke the deadlock, a great ball over the defenders from Sarah Burn found Nichole Havery; who was able to get a shot away, giving the keeper no chance.
Five minutes later a great chance for Chester to extend the lead – Havery was through on goal after working her way into the penalty box, she smashed a volley right at Durham’s keeper who was able to palm the ball away towards her defence.
A great bit of build-up in midfield between Fenn and Burn, saw the ball played out wide right, Hockaday darted into the channel, beat the left back and whipped a great ball in across the box. It beat the keeper and defenders, Jess Ellison sprinted half the pitch and got to the back post, managed to make connection with the ball; but just couldn’t quite turn it into the net.
25 minutes and Durham were awarded a very controversial free kick; what initially looked like a collision of two players and probably a drop ball, was then given as a free kick. From 25 yards, Jen Knowles put it in the far-right hand side of Stephanie Jones’s goal, a great strike and 1-1.
2 minutes later Nichole Havery was fouled in Durham’s penalty area, but the referee just waved it away. An absolute stone wall penalty, which was; well….just missed.
Durham were forced to make a substitution shortly after, as Megan Elliott seemed to have been slightly concussed after heading a high ball.
Late on in the first half Durham’s goal keeper struggled to deal with a back pass; miss-kicked it and the ball landed at Havery’s feet, she laid it off to Hannah McStay-Fenn, who got a great shot away and on target but was saved by Durham’s keeper.
45 minutes and Chester were awarded a free kick after Nichole Havery was fouled on the right side of the 18-yard line. Havery placed the ball and ushered others away, then smashed it into the top left-hand corner, the keeper had no chance of stopping it. The Cestrian’s go into the break 2-1 up.
Chester made one change at half time; Kacie Elson replaced Jessica Ellison.
Elson proved to be a threat straight away on the left wing as she made a few attacking runs, the best being a fantastic counterattack from just inside her own half; she breezed past a couple of midfielders and defenders, driving into the 18 yard box, but her shot was saved by the keeper.
5 minutes later and following some great combination play between Havery and Elson; Kacie curled a great shot into the far corner of the goal, but the linesman on the far side flagged for offside. Where was VAR when it was needed. Other than the linesman no one else thought it was offside… strange.
Chester were certainly the better team; creating plenty of chances to shoot at goal. Durham just had to soak it up and feed their wide players with occasional counters which never amounted to any shooting opportunities.
Chester-Le-Street’s second substitution came on 68 minutes as Lucy Jackman replaced Hannah McStay-Fenn.
Chester dominated the game throughout with quick one touch passing and creating some great 2v1 overloads. Nichole Havery going close with a diving header past the post, then Laura Hockaday having a couple of chances at goal, the first after some great movement to create space and getting a shot away but the keeper managed to get her body behind; the second saw her breaking lines into the 6 yard box, but unable to keep her shot below the bar.
Finally, Hockaday got onto the score sheet and grabbed Chester’s third goal, a free kick close to the half way line was driven into the Durham 18 yard box, Hockaday met the ball with a perfectly timed jump and header, sending the ball into the far corner of the goal. A thoroughly deserved goal for Laura and Chester.
Full time and Chester-le-Street head into the next round of the FA Cup 1-3 winners against Durham Cestria, a thoroughly dominant and deserved performance from Chester le street. Other than a dubious free kick which led to an equaliser for Durham, Chester le street were the stronger team and could/should have finished with double the goals.