Charlie Bill’s Women produced a last-minute winner to ensure their progression into the third-round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup.
MK Dons didn’t give up in their pursuit for victory, which allowed them to produce a moment of magic within their FA Cup campaign, to advance into the next stage of the knockout tournament.
Charlie Bill made only one change to his previous starting XI. Nicola Puddick made way for Hannah Samuels, her first return to the starting line-up since her previous FA Cup fixture.
In four out of MK Dons’ previous five fixtures a goal has been scored within the opening 20 minutes of the match. Uncommonly, there was minimal action within the opening stages of this game.
That was until Rhianne Rush broke the deadlock on the 30-minute mark. Rush, who scored her first goal of the season, as well as her first FA Cup goal, gathered the ball on the edge of the area before she picked out the bottom-left corner of the net. A strike that was hit with precision, which left the Worthing keeper no hope of stopping it. 1-0
Although the Dons’ number eight gained the lead, Worthing responded rapidly and netted the equaliser minutes after. A low cross into the area bounced away from home side’s defence, which allowed the opposition’s striker to poke the ball past Chloe Sansom. 1-1
In the dying moments of the first half, Worthing took the lead through a spectacular finish. A great touch from the travelling side’s striker allowed the opportunity for a long-range shot, which had rocketed into the left netting. An unstoppable strike on the brink of the break. 1-2
The Rebels had gained momentum, as well as the advantage after Charlie Bill’s Women conceded moments before the interval. However, this didn’t stop the home side from trying to re-gain their lead.
MK Dons continued to battle hard throughout the second 45-minute period, to keep their FA Cup campaign alive. The home side created a plethora of chances, however, they struggled to find the back of the net since their opener.
Charlie Bill made two substitutions in the late stages of the fixture, to help influence the result back in favour of the Dons Women.
The hosts were awarded a free-kick on the 90-minute mark, this, as well as injury time was the only period that Charlie Bill’s Women could turn the result around.
Nicole Pepper stood over the free-kick at the end of regulation time. The number ten unleashed a strike from a dead ball position and the technique of the shot flat-footed Worthing’s goalie, who had already committed to the left of the goalmouth. The Rebel’s number one could only watch as the ball flew into the right of the net. celebrations broke out as MK Dons kept their FA Cup dreams alive. 2-2
The drama did not end there. In all their defensive efforts throughout the second half, the travelling side had their hearts broken in the dying stages of the game.
Leoni Miceli, who has been a talisman off the bench for Charlie Bill’s side, provided an extraordinary moment, which emphasised the magic of the FA Cup.
The substitute used her speed to blow by her defender and connect with a brilliantly placed ball from Pepper into her path. A million thoughts may have rushed through the number 15’s mind as quickly as she sprinted towards goal, but that didn’t faze Miceli, who remained calm and composed as she knocked the ball away from the keeper and past the goal-line. 3-2
MK Dons erupted in celebration and the team gathered to celebrate their last-minute winner, a euphoric reward for their relentless efforts throughout the match, to secure a place in the third-round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup competition.
MK Dons: Sansom (C), Warren, Biggadike (McLean 80), Rush, Pepper, Wood, Miles, Gould (Miceli 75), Coupar, Newman, Samuels
Subs: Brown, Mitchell
Goals: Rush 30, Pepper 90, Miceli 90+2
Photos captured by CTFPhotography