Nettleham Ladies were beaten 3-2 in the FA Cup First Round Proper on Remembrance day at Mulsanne Park.
The Netts have had a good run in the Cup this season but lost to Long Eaton, a close rival in the National League. A narrow lead was taken last minute, as the visitors came from behind.
The Cup run started in September with a 2-1 away victory against Stockingford AA Pavilion. They then triumphed with a 9-0 game against Histon at home. A game that started with an own goal for the visitors, benefitted from six different goal-scorers and ended with a goal by sixteen-year-old Holly Wilson in her FA Cup debut.
After the explosive game, Wilson said: “I feel delighted to get onto the scoresheet after putting my all into my time on the pitch, and I’m proud to be part of such a great performance from everyone on the team.”
Unfortunately, this week it wasn’t meant to be despite the Netts taking the lead in the first half. Abbie Murrell returned to the line-up after a few weeks away and scored a brace for the hosts. The smallest player on the pitch managed an incredible long-range shot that crossed in front of the keeper and found the top right corner of the net. Later, she scored a powerful header from an Eden Pedersen corner.
Leading until 87th minute, Nettleham faced injury time heartbreak. Long Eaton’s top goal-scorer equalised for the visitors and then an own-goal lost the Netts the game just before the final whistle.
Manager, Richard Cooper, had just 12 players to choose from as a plague of injuries has recently befallen the team. As the game drew on, two more players faced injury and were forced to leave the pitch. Consequently, the Netts battled through the final moments with a side of just ten.
Graciously, in his post-match interview, Cooper said that Long Eaton deserved the win and were the better team. As broken-hearted as all those involved, he accepted the defeat and is looking ahead to how the team can learn for the events of the day.
“It bodes really well for the future. It’s just a little bit hard to take at the moment.”
Out of the Cup, Nettleham have lost the chance to win more money for the club. Just a small team in the FA Women’s National League, funds aren’t high at the moment and the Cup run coming to an end will be a blow to all those involved. In a team where the players pay to play and the staff all volunteer, not only is progress in the competition an achievement to be celebrated, it’s also a necessity.
The club will now be holding a Christmas raffle in order to raise funds to pay for a coach to take the team to an away game in Wales. A shirt signed by Gareth Southgate will be the prize everyone will be itching to take home.