By: Hana Basir

Pilkington beat LWYFL champions, BRNESC in the quarter finals of the League Cup on Sunday in a thrilling knockout game full of fouls, cards and goals. It ended 2-2 with Debbie Hancock and Eleanor Owen getting on the scoresheet. The game then went straight to penalties, where the home side emerged victorious, winning it 6-5. 

Both teams began the first half strongly, but it was The Pilks who drew first blood in the 20th minute. From just outside the 18-yard box, Hancock struck a rocket of a shot which proved to be too strong for the visiting goalkeeper. Though she got a hand to it, the ball still found its way into the back of the net. 

BRNESC didn’t back down, as they continued to attack dangerously. 10 minutes into the second half, a handball in Pilkington’s box meant the away side had a chance at an equaliser. In a cool and calm manner, the penalty was converted into the bottom right corner to make it 1-1.

The home team began to look shaky as BRNESC took full advantage of their newfound confidence. The Pilks were unable to get the ball out of their half and Karen Quinn was forced to make a last-ditch clearance on the line to deny BRNESC a second goal.

The league champions inevitably made it 2-1 in the 60th minute as Pilkington failed to clear the ball in what was a scramble in the box. The shot was low and driven, leaving Lia Pierce no chance.  

Just 10 minutes later, Nic Franey’s hard work to drive into the box paid off, as she laid the ball off for Owen who then curled it up and over the goalkeeper from the edge of the area. It was 2-2, and the remaining 20 minutes was nerve-wracking for both sides as the intensity ramped up in a bid to find the winner. BRNESC defenders were quick to dispossess any Pilks player who tried to carry the ball forward. Pierce then made a save from pointblank range to stop the visitors from getting a last-minute winner.

Eventually, the final whistle went and BRNESC stepped up to take the first penalty. Chaos only ensued after The Pilks’ third penalty rattled the crossbar. BRNESC needed to convert the next to win it, but Pierce made a heroic save to keep her team in the game. The away side missed their next penalty, before Hancock slotted hers in to put Pilkington through to the semifinals.

It was a fierce and high-quality opposition for The Pilks who still sit third in the league. Pilkington are set travel to Wirral Phoenix in the semifinals of the League Cup on 24th April and will face BRNESC once again in their final league game the following week.