Jess Lewry slotted the winning penalty in a dramatic shootout at TNS to nail a famous win for Chichester City Ladies and take them through to the last 16 of the Women’s FA Cup for the first time – and a mouthwatering home tie against Liverpool.
TNS Ladies were left to wonder what might have been after a thrilling fourth-round game in the Shropshire sun in front of a sizeable crowd at New Park near Oswestry that ended in the 5-4 shootout win for City.
Chichester were favourites but the romance of the cup is a great leveller and this match had drama right to the end.
The visitors started brightly with the likes of Cherelle Khassal and Jade Widdows looking dangerous and their pace was causing TNS concern at the back.
Eight minutes in Jenna Fowlie had the first real chance for Chichester but her effort sailed over the bar leaving keeper Stacey Garnham untroubled.
TNS striker Emily Ridge was a threat for the hosts but the Chichester defence were more than a match for her and, with the hosts setting out the frustrate their visitors and play counter-attacking football, chances were very much at a premium for New Saints as the half wore on.
Lewry had a close shave for Chichester following good work from Khassal. This time Lewry fired a volley goalwards but it grazed the bar.
TNS sprang forward and Chichester got a little fraught at the back and two chances came for the hosts in quick succession before Lauren Cheshire cleared the danger.
City continued to probe away and Lewry went close again with a diving header from a Fowlie cross. But, close to the interval the hosts had a huge slice of fortune to break through.
A long ball was sent towards the Chichester area where keeper Sadie Wilson-Blakely and Cheshire looked to have things covered – but the hovering Kim Bebbington managed get a faint touch between them, sending the ball goalward and in to a huge roar from the home support.
In the last minute of the half, Tiffany Taylor narrowly missed out on an equaliser when latching on to a Widdows free kick – her touch went across goal and was cleared.
Shortly after the break and the visitors were deservedly back on the level terms. Twinkle-toes Khassal danced past defenders and surged into the box before planting a sidefoot shot into the far corner.
Next Khassal was sent through by Chloe Tucker but Garnham did well to deny her a second strike.
Alex Collighan was a growing threat down the flank for Chichester and her pace and movement was energising the visitors’ attacks.
Lewry thought she was through on goal from a lovely pass from Collighan but an offside flag halted her.
Late on Chichester went close again with three quickfire attempts, two from Khassal, the other from Lewry. Garnham was having a sensational game between the sticks for The New Saints.
Extra-time was needed and both teams tried hard to get their noses in front in the first period.
The game was delayed from a long time during the second period because of a nasty injury yo City skipper Emma Alexandre, who was eventually taken off for further treatment.
Upon the restart Chichester went close to grabbing a winner when Khassal was put through, rounded the keeper but saw her effort blocked.
There were a lot of tired legs on the pitch and it was little surprise to see it go to penalties.
Jade Widdows, Chloe Tucker, Lauren Cheshire and Becky Barron all converted for the visitors but TNS’s fifth kick, taken by Ridge, was superbly saved by Wilson-Blakely, enabling Lewry to come forward with a chance to send Chichester through.
She didn’t disappoint, sending her spot kick into the roof of the net to spark wonderful celebrations for the team and supporters in the knowledge they had made club history.
TNS gave it their best shot but it’s Chichester who march on.
CCLFC: S Wilson-Blakely, Cheshire, Alexandre, Taylor, Widdows, Barron, Fowlie, Collighan, Tucker, Lewry, Khassal. Subs: Bloomfield, Phelps, Ingram, Walford, Shine.