Sent Her Forward FAW Cup special
Eastbourne Town pulled off the shock of the second round, disposing of Premier League Queens Park Rangers to set up another dream home tie.
But Portsmouth, Lewes and Brighton, who all came through their ties unscathed, are all away in the next round.
Lewes and Brighton both have mouthwatering matches against Super League opposition, while Pompey will head to the North West to play either Blackburn Rovers or Liverpool Marshall Feds.
Emma Parslow’s feisty minnows, who are struggling near the bottom of the London & South East Regional League, put their league worries to one side to ride their luck and extend their record-breaking run in the domestic game’s most prestigious knockout competition.
They will now play Derby County, of the Premier League’s Northern Division, who are having a similar season to the team Eastbourne have just beaten.
Having disposed of FAW Premier League Division One South West sides Gosport Borough and Chichester City in previous rounds, Eastbourne refused to be overawed by the visit of QPR, who play two tiers above the Sussex side.
And after they survived a penalty miss from Rangers’ Sophie Fogarty, Jacey Samson’s 52nd-minute strike was enough to take Town into dreamland – and the third round of the FAW Cup for the first time.
Rather less of a shock was Portsmouth‘s win at Gillingham.
Pompey, who are unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day of the season, eased to a 5-0 victory in Kent, with Ini Umotong continuing her fine debut season with the Blues with a hat-trick.
Charley Wilson and Sarah Kempson also scored as Portsmouth strolled through to a third-round clash with either Blackburn, currently fourth in the Northern Division of the FAWPL, or Liverpool Marshall Feds, of the FAWPL’s Northern Division One.
Perry Northeast’s team have an excellent recent cup pedigree, having been the only team outside the Super League to reach last season’s quarter-finals.
But with a play-off place for FAWSL2 at stake for the winners of this season’s Premier League, he will be hoping the FAW Cup does not become too much of a distraction this time around.
The journey to Blackburn or Liverpool is probably not quite what they wanted. Either tie is winnable – Blackburn are roughly on a par with Pompey, occupying the corresponding position in the Northern Division, while Liverpool Feds are the current leaders of one of the next tiers down in the Premier League structure.
But it’s not quite the glamour tie they might have hoped for and will involve a 500-mile round-trip.
Super League challenges for Sussex pair
Brighton‘s reward for their 6-2 victory over West Ham is an opportunity to test themselves against Watford, of FAWSL2.
Watford finished seventh out of 10 in the inaugural WSL2 season and include Hollie Wride, who was in the Chichester City side who beat Brighton in the Sussex County Cup final last season.
Brighton head coach James Marrs and their head of women’s football, Tracy Doe, will view the match as a perfect opportunity to test the team’s credentials against a side established in the league Brighton hope to be playing in next year.
They will undoubtedly treat their opponents with great respect, but it’s Watford who have everything to lose against a side that I believe can bear comparison with several Super League clubs.
Lewes, too, have an attractive draw – against Yeovil Town, who finished fifth in WSL2 last season.
John Donoghue’s team earned their place in the third round with a clinical victory over Exeter City, from the tier below them.
Sian Heather, Kirstie Spice and Kelly Newton scored the Rookettes’ goals in a 3-1 victory in which Cherelle Khassal earned the player-of-the-match award.
An excellent account of their win is here.
They visit a Yeovil side with a great pedigree in women’s football and regarded – much like Lewes themselves – as one of the friendliest clubs in the game.
Like Watford, Yeovil boast some top-quality players – although they will miss the excellent Sarah Wiltshire, who has moved to Manchester City after only half a season with the Lady Glovers.
Carshalton Athletic, who, like Eastbourne, are one of the lowest-ranked teams left in the competition, have a home tie against Keynsham Town, of the Premier League Southern Division, after being awarded their second-round tie against Swindon Town following an FA investigation.
Charlton Athletic have been drawn at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers after winning a thrilling match against fellow Premier League title-chasers Cardiff City 3-2 after extra-time.
And Spurs were taken all the way by struggling Copsewood Coventry before clinching a home tie against Preston North End with a 2-1 win, also in extra-time.