Robyn Levett was the hero for Cheltenham Town as the Robins won a Vitality Women’s FA Cup first round epic against Exeter City on penalties.
120 minutes of gripping football could not separate the sides at the Hub and with the contest locked at 1-1 after extra-time, Levett’s decisive save helped Cheltenham hold their nerve and battle into round two.
The visitors, who play alongside Exeter in Division One South West of the FA Women’s National League, took the lead after 33 minutes when Billie Haynes finished off a fluent passing move to put Cheltenham in front.
- First round weekend
- Sunday 13 December 2020
✅ @LiverpoolFeds— Vitality Women's FA Cup (@VitalityWFACup) December 13, 2020
Congratulations on reaching the #WomensFACup second round! pic.twitter.com/yZSIsEyoO9
Exeter established a real foothold in the game after half time and forced a brilliant save from Levett, as the hosts’ duo of Hope Suominen and Connie Pengelly linked up well.
They continued to push throughout the second period and eventually got their reward with the final whistle looming, when Pengelly was brought down in the box and Abbie Britton coolly slotted home from the spot.
That spot-kick was a sign of things to come and when neither side could force a breakthrough in extra-time, a nervy penalty shootout ensured under the Hub lights.
Both sides scored their first three spot kicks but a brilliant save from Levett, followed by Anthea Kaptein’s fifth effort hitting the crossbar, sparked jubilant scenes and propelled Cheltenham into round two.
Georgia Allen’s clinical hat-trick helped a rampant Ipswich Town topple Harlow Town 9-2 in the weekend’s highest-scoring encounter.
Natasha Thomas and Eloise King also bagged doubles, while further strikes from Sophie Peskett and Abbie Lafayette hauled the away side into round two.
Therese Addison ran riot for Billericay Town as her four second-half goals – after coming on at half time – helped the Essex team topple Maidenhead United 4-0 on home soil.
And Newcastle United were also comfortable first round winners as strikes from Katie Barker, Anna Soulsby and Georgia Gibson downed Barnsley 3-1 on Tyneside.
Elsewhere, Southampton put five past AFC Bournemouth away from home while Leyton Orient battled past Actonians 2-1 in London.
Lincoln City beat Solihull Moors 3-1, Wolverhampton Wanderers eased past Stourbridge while Brighouse Town won by the same 3-0 margin away at Chester-le-Street Town.
And Liverpool Feds triumphed 2-1 over FC United of Manchester in the battle of the north-west to cap a pulsating first round of Vitality Women’s FA Cup action.
Wem Town, meanwhile, had an extra week before taking to the park but the wait was worth it following their thrilling 4-3 win over Boldmere St Michaels.
They now take their place in the second round where a visit to Stoke City awaits, with all ties set to be played on Sunday 3 January.
Click here to see all the scores from first round weekend.