A SUPERB strike from skipper Emma Skinner earned Swindon Spitfires a 2-1 win over Gosport Borough in the first qualifying round of the Women’s FA Cup.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Spits, who had to come from behind before seeing off last season’s Hampshire League champions.
Gosport started brightly and didn’t allow their opponents to settle during a fast first 15 minutes, but the home side gradually found their feet and Emily Sparkes had the ball in the back of the net on 18 minutes, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Defensively, Spitfires’ Cara Costello, Jenna Blake and Jess Dent, stood up well to Borough’s forwards but the home side fell behind in the 26th minute when Shannen Woods fired beyond Rachel Eley.
Woods smashed over five minutes later but Spitfires finished the half the stronger. Emma Blackwell shot over from a Vicky Wilkes cross after 34 minutes, and Natalie Haigh’s free-kick tested Gosport keeper Gemma Needham seven minutes later.
And all that pressure told three minutes before half-time when Haigh’s cross from the right found Beth Turner and, after her first effort was pushed onto a post; she latched onto the rebound and shot across Needham into the far corner.
Spitfires had their tails up after the break, with Debbie Rose and Haigh creating openings for Sparkes and Turner without reward. But after 54 minutes Spitfires netted what turned out to be the winner. A Haigh cross from the right was only cleared as far as Skinner, who let fly with a shot that had Needham grasping at air.
Gosport again pressed Spits, and Kelly Baker grazed a post after 62 minutes, but the hosts held on to book themselves a second qualifying round home tie with Poole Town in a fortnight’s time.
It also proved a good day for Spitfires in the league too, with second-placed Supermarine failing to take top spot following their surprise 5-1 defeat at Forest Green Rovers Reserves.
Meanwhile, Spitfires’ reserves lost out 3-1 at FC Chippenham in the Wiltshire League, but the under 12s racked up a 12-0 win at Frome Town Youth to retain first place.
In the Oxford Girls’ League, Spitfires Under 14s secured a 12-0 win at Kingham thanks to goals from Kat Reynolds (4), Daniella Granato (4), Amy Connaghan (3), Chiarna Deller and Katie Dellow.
In the Wiltshire Women’s and Girls’ League Under 16 Division, Swindon Town won 6-0 at Derry Hill.
Hannah Attwell bagged a hat-trick for Town, with Karyn Coomes, Kerry Hester and Hannah Donovon also finding the back of the net.