Nantwich Town beat Wirral United to make cup final 4

Nantwich Town Women have reached their first ever cup final after a 2-0 win over Wirral United in the semi-final of the Cheshire FA Challenge Cup, writes Liam Price.

Jade Buckley-Ratcliff was played in behind early on but Wirral keeper Agi Skiba did well to dive at her feet and stop the danger.

Mollie Darlington showed a great turn of pace to burst down the right flank and crossed low into the box.

Kara Townsend dived to claim it but didn’t get there and luckily for Nantwich it didn’t reach anyone in blue.

After that it settled into a typical semi-final kind of game, bitty and scrappy with neither team maintaining possession for long periods of time, perhaps more fearful of conceding than pushing to score themselves.

Nantwich Town beat Wirral United to make cup final 1

A bit of a lapse at the back almost let in the dangerous Darlington but Townsend did well again down low to deny her.

A couple of sighters from distance were an indicator of Nantwich building some pressure towards the end of the half, Poppy Smith and Libby Bulkeley both having a go but neither troubling Skiba.

However, there was nothing the keeper could do about the opening goal.

A corner in stoppage time was played short to the unmarked Smith, who after getting the ball out of her feet hit a fantastic curling lob over Skiba and into the far top corner. A goal worthy of the occasion.

Nantwich Town beat Wirral United to make cup final 6

The second half started as well as the first ended for Nantwich.

Buckley-Ratcliff, Smith and Millie O’Connor all had efforts that might have troubled the goal but another a few minutes later certainly did.

It was Abbie Heywood who in a central position about 25 yards out decided to have go with a bit of space open in front of her, firmly struck but central Skiba got her hand on it but was unfortunate to see it bounce backwards and in rather than out.

The two-goal cushion understandably took the wind out of Wirral’s sails and it became a bit of a Nantwich shooting gallery.

Smith, a Hattie Bourne header and another long ranger from O’Connor were keeping the Wirral defence busy.

Nantwich Town beat Wirral United to make cup final 2

Skiba did well again to push away a cross/shot from sub Meg Rowley.

Townsend almost had an issue when mis-hitting a clearance that gave Darlington a sniff of an open goal, albeit from a fair way out, and she did not catch her shot nearly well enough to leave the Dabbers able to clear.

Poppy Smith still wasn’t done and had another couple of strikes before the game was up.

One was easy for Skiba but the other, a high looping attempt that bounced awkwardly and almost caught Skiba out, she again did well though.

So a momentous day for the women’s side that were only formed in 2020, a first shot at silverware.

Full details will follow, but the final will be played at the Swansway Stadium on Sunday 12th May. The Dabbers’ opponents will be Macclesfield FC, who defeated Congleton Town in the other semi-final.

(Pic by Peter Robinson)

Nantwich Town beat Wirral United to make cup final 3

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