WHITLEY Bay FC Women won through to the final of the League Cup when they narrowly defeated their own Reserves 2-1 at Hillheads.
The unique occasion had a surreal air to it – almost a mixture between a cup tie and a practice match as neither side seemed to be able to decide how to approach the game against their friends and team-mates.
The early exchanges were even, with the Reserves having the first meaningful sight of goal as a sweeping move saw Laurel Davidson set up Kirsty Hunter but Jade Makarski saved.
On 22 minutes the first team made the breakthrough when Rachel Kay latched onto a clearance, skipped past two defenders and scored
The Reserves made an instant response as Nic Gray headed a Hanagh Barrass free kick just wide.
But they were not to be denied on 38 minutes when Kerry Davison found player manager Hunter on the edge of the box and she took a touch and struck a great drive into the bottom corner.
Both sides made a determined start to the second half, with some great defending by the Reserves.
On 57 minutes, a free kick was awarded to the first team just into the Reserves half and Donna Brown hit a great ball that was headed home by Rachel Mellor.
As the heat and pace of the game started to take its toll, the Reserves rallied briefly and Davidson threatened on a couple of occasions but was thwarted by some last ditch defending.
The score should have been 3-1 right at the end as Laura Darmody was fouled in the box, but her penalty was missed.
Both managers were pleased to get the game played and both sides came out with great credit for some excellent football.
For Whitley Bay, it was the second time in a week that they have reached a final and they will play Huddersfield, who beat Sheffield United 4-2 in the other semi-final.
Bay are also in the final of the Northumberland FA Women’s Cup after a hard fought 1-0 win over Newcastle University.
Rachel Kay hit the post after a good run and the Uni were forced to work hard to close Whitley down.
In the second half, Whitley virtually camped in the Uni half but were unable to make the breakthrough.
The score remained at 0-0 on 90 minutes and the match went to extra time.
On 103 minutes, a Donna Brown corner was headed down and into the corner of the net by Janine Fagan to give the Bay the advantage.
Stand-in manager Kirsty Hunter said: “Newcastle University made us work very hard for the win – great credit for running us so close.”
Whitley Bay will play either Newcastle United Reserves or Cramlington in the final.