BURTON Albion Women progressed to the first-round proper of the Vitality Women's FA Cup after a dramatic 2-1 win against Mansfield Town Ladies.
After Emily Gillott’s second-half opener was cancelled out by the Stags Ellie Marshall with 10 minutes remaining, the game seemed to be heading for penalties.
As the two dugouts were starting to prepare their shoot-out order, Emmalee Hornsby fired in a winner with just seconds remaining to send the Brewers into the next round.
Mansfield started quickly and were denied an opener in the first two minutes of the game by Alice Langstone. Played in behind by Shannon Purdy, Georgia Gladwin’s strike from inside the box was pushed away from danger by the Brewers ‘keeper.
Burton responded with chances of their own but attempts from Ella Richie and Milly Wortley were caught well by Venessa Kinnerly.
Hanaiya Azhar also had an opportunity to get the first goal of the game, but the winger blasted her shot wide from a tight angle after the ball was drilled across the box by Gillott.
Richie, who was in the centre of the action for Burton, had the home side’s best chance of the half. Dribbling down the centre of the pitch, the attacker took aim just outside the box but dragged her attempt just wide of the post.
Wortley was in the thick of the action in the midfield. As well as playing a combative role, the number eight also had a flurry of shots in the opening 45 minutes. The best of which came on the 39th minute. Bursting down the left-flank to offer an option to Richie, Wortley controlled the through ball well but fired her strike into the hands of the ‘keeper.
The Brewers found it difficult to challenge the Mansfield goalkeeper into anything but routine saves in the first-half but lead through a moment of magic in the second. Gillott was the difference-maker, curling a shot from the left-hand side of the box into the top corner, leaving the ‘keeper motionless in the middle of the goal.
Megan Pittman, who was making her first start of the season after recovering from an Achilles injury, almost doubled the lead two minutes later. Bursting forward from her right-back position, the defender was inches away from latching onto a ball across the box, with the ball evading her foot by a matter of inches.
Mansfield struggled to create chances in the opening exchanges of the second half, with the Brewers resolute back-four restricting their possession of the ball in the final third.
It wasn’t until the 68th minute that Langstone was called into action. Dribbling past two Burton defenders, Nikki Wigman fired a shot low from a tight angle, but the ball was saved by the foot of the ‘keeper.
It served as a warning sign for the home side, who conceded a goal against the run of play with 10 minutes remaining. Holding up the ball in the middle of the Brewers half, Marshall dribbled the ball to the edge of the area on the right-side before firing her shot across Langstone into the bottom corner.
Marshall could have completed the turnaround with her next chance, but her volley from outside the area flew well over the bar and kept the game in the balance.
With the game heading for penalties, the Brewers struck late to win the game with just seconds remaining. Substitute Hornsby picked the ball up on the right-side, driving towards goal before lashing the ball under the Mansfield ‘keeper and sending the Brewers bumper crowd into raptures.
Winning for the first time since September 12, Burton will be hoping to be victorious in the league when they host Sporting Khalsa next Sunday afternoon.