After eight months of waiting for another crack at the SSE Women’s FA Cup, Sheffield Ladies stormed into Monday’s fourth round draw in style with a 5-1 win over Leicester City – thanks largely to Jodie Michalska’s rapid second-half hat-trick.
The South Yorkshire club were on top from the outset, with both Michalska and Hannah Dale firing early efforts off target, before Carla Ward missed an even better opportunity from Dale’s exquisite ball across the face of goal.
Leicester however were threatening on the break, and the Foxes almost took the lead when Lauren Bartle’s 20th-minute free-kick hit the bar, before they hit the woodwork again five minutes later when a cross was picked up by the wind.
The SSE Women's FA Cup
Third Round Proper
Sunday 7 February
Winners receive £400
By Chris Bailey
It stayed goalless until the interval, but the second-half was a totally different story and it took just a minute for Sheffield to score when Michalska met Ward’s corner.
And the striker was on target again just three minutes later to double the advantage as she beat a defender to a loose ball before rifling home her finish.
Sheffield’s all-time top scorer had wrapped up her hat-trick by the 51st minute, bending one into the bottom corner as Sheffield turned on the style with Ellie Gilliatt adding two more goals on 68 and 77 minutes.
Leicester did pull one back late on through Lauren Handley after Chantelle Robinson’s excellent ball, but they could not match the form of their male counterparts as they crashed out of The Cup.
Blackburn Rovers also eased through as they kept a clean sheet away at West Ham United and ran out 7-0 winners.
Rovers were 4-0 up by the interval, with both Saffron Jordan and Lynda Shepherd bagging a pair of goals each, with the latter’s second coming from all of 40 yards.
Emily Hollinshead was also at the double for Everton as they beat Stoke City 7-0, Katie Wilkinson’s goal gave Aston Villa a 1-0 victory at home to Portsmouth, while Sporting Club Albion won by the same margin as they welcomed Coventry United.
A free-kick from Bianca Baptiste was the difference as Tottenham Hotspur edged out Gillingham 1-0.
Elsewhere, it took until extra time for Millwall Lionesses to see off Watford, after Anneka Nuttall cancelled out Naomi Cole’s 53rd-minute opener.
The Hornets saw Ellie Mason’s late effort agonisingly cleared off the line before the 90 minutes were up, but in the extra half hour Lucy Loomes bundled in Maple’s header for the Lionesses, before she put the tie to bed in the 120th minute.
But the biggest victories of the day belonged to Charlton Athletic and Brighton & Hove Albion, who both hit double figures against Newcastle United and Oxford United to win 10-0.
Both sides have already been in the goals in the competition this season, with Charlton notching nine goals and Brighton seven in the second round.
Gemma Shepherd was the heroine again for Charlton as she secured a hat-trick within 15 minutes on her way to five goals in today, while Kit Graham also scored a treble.
There were also two hat-tricks in Brighton’s victory, as first Kate Natkiel claimed a match ball before Charlotte Gurr got her hands on one of her own in the final minute.
Four games were also postponed due to poor weather, with Loughborough Foxes v Lewes, Nottingham Forest v Preston North End, Yeovil Town v Bradford City, and Bristol City v Queens Park Rangers all set to be replayed on Sunday 14 February.