Substitute Paige Bailey-Gayle was the hero for Leicester City Women as the Foxes dumped WSL Reading out of the FA Cup.
The home side had trailed through Brooke Chaplen’s penalty on the stroke of half time. But after her wonder striker forced extra-time, Bailey-Gale hit another with ten minutes left to set up a quarter-final with Manchester City.
Reading were almost in front after just seven minutes when Millie Farrow found space in the box. But her drilled effort was palmed away by Demi Lambourne and cleared.
Ten minutes later, Jade Moore had the ball in the net for the Royals – but it was chalked off for offside – something that would become a theme for the visitors over the course of the game.
Charlie Devlin almost got her first goal for the Foxes with a free kick after goalkeeper Grace Moloney was booked for flattening Hayley James on the edge of the box.
As the clock ticked into stoppage time, it was Reading who edged in front. Farrow was hacked down as she attempted a close-range shot. Chaplen converted the penalty, Lambourne did get a hand on it, but the shot had too much power.
The second half had little by way of chances – with the first clear-cut chance coming to Bailey-Gale ten minutes from time after being introduced as a substitute on the hour mark.
After winning the ball back on the left side, Bailey-Gale cut inside before unleashing a piledriver into the top corner that cannoned off the crossbar and in.
There was still time for Remi Allen to test Lambourne once more, but the Foxes’ goalkeeper was equal too it to force the game into an extra 30 minutes.
With five minutes left in extra-time, Bailey-Gayley wrote the headlines. Ella Rutherford won the ball back before splitting the defence to give Bailey-Grace a clear route to goal who lifted her shot over the hapless keeper and bouncing down off the bar. A nervous wait for a decision whether or not the ball had crossed the line turned to ecstasy as the referee gave a goal.
It’s a good old-fashioned giant-killing for the Foxes who now face the mammoth task of Manchester City in a fortnight for a place in the semi-final.
Leicester City Women Lambourne, Nat Johnson, Popple (Brown 66’), Cataldo, Devlin, Blanchard, James (Bailey-Gayle 61’), Thomas (Smith 70’), Rutherford, Plumptre, Lucy Johnson (Everett 94’) Subs not used Field, Lawrence
Reading Women Moloney, Leine, Pacheco, Bartrip, James, Allen, Harding, Farrow (Rowe 71’), Utland (Eikeland 71’), Moore, Chaplen (Howard 118’) Subs not used Laws, Skeels, Quirk
Goals Leicester City Women (Bailey-Gayle 79’, 115’) Reading Women (Chaplen 45+1’)
Star Player Paige Bailey-Gayle (Leicester City Women)
This article was also used on Leicester City Women’s official website here.
MAIN PHOTO CREDIT – LEICESTER CITY WOMEN FOOTBALL CLUB