Accrington Stanley Women suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against local rivals Darwen FC Women in the Alliance Design & Print League Cup, a match played in front of a record crowd for Stanley Women at the Wham stadium.
Amanda Goodwin scored the only goal of the game 15 minutes from time, as a record 1,249 spectators enjoyed an entertaining derby between two well matched sides.
Darwen, who currently sit one tier above Stanley Women in the women’s football pyramid now progress to the next round of the cup, while Stanley turn their attentions back to the league and a trip to face Radcliffe FC Women on Sunday.
The game started brightly with chances at both ends, first Loulou Newton saw her half-volley well saved by the Darwen goalkeeper, before the dangerous Goodwin saw her effort cannon back off the post for the visitors.
Chances kept coming for both sides, with Niamh Corrigan striking narrowly over following a devastating Stanley Women counter-attack, while at the other end and Goodwin saw her free-kick evade everyone and crash back off the post.
The best chance of the half fell to Stanley Women however. After great work down the right by Corrigan, her cross found Sanah Mehdi whose powerful shot brought a fantastic save out of visiting goalkeeper Danielle Hill. Just seconds later in the same attack and Corrigan once again found Mehdi, but her half-volley smashed off the crossbar.
Maddison McKenna then hit narrowly over for the visitors, as the two sides went in goalless at the break.
Just as in the first half, the second started with opportunities at both ends, with Sarah Greenhalgh firing narrowly wide for Darwen and the lively Corrigan seeing her effort well saved after more exciting work down the right.
With the possibility of a penalty shoot-out looming, both sides went in search of the winner, with the impressive Alicia Johnson going close with a long-range free-kick for the visitors.
Now in the ascendancy, it was the away side who broke the deadlock 15 minutes from time, with Goodwin’s effort finding its way into the back of the net to the delight of the travelling fans.
Stanley Women pushed for an equaliser with player of the match Millie Jardine driving the home side forward, but there would be no way past a determined Darwen defence.
The away side saw a late goal disallowed for a very narrow offside, but Goodwin’s earlier strike was enough to secure victory for the visitors.
Kristian Perry, Head Coach of Accrington Stanley Women, said: “On the whole it was a really good performance and the players are disappointed that they haven’t got anything from the game.
“There were some stand out performances from Lily Metcalf and Niamh Corrigan, two youngsters who stepped up for us, and also a superb performance from captain Millie Jardine in centre midfield.
“We were really disappointed to lose the goal in the way we did, but someone has got to win and someone has got to lose.”
Sami Smithson, Chair of Accrington Stanley Women, said: “It was fantastic to be back playing at the Wham in front of a record crowd for our club at this great stadium.
“The atmosphere was amazing, we had lots of families here including our mascots the Rossendale Ravens and it was just an extremely proud day for us to be able to bring the community together. I would like to say a big thank you to club sponsors Sundown Solutions and match sponsors HML Recycling.”
For further coverage on Accrington Stanley Women, visit: https://www.facebook.com/AccringtonStanleyGirlsandLadies/
Accrington Stanley Women face Radcliffe FC Women at the Goshen Sports Centre on Sunday 18th February – kick off is at 2pm.