Spurs grab late winner against Leicester to reach first Women’s FA Cup final

Martha Thomas - Spurs grab dramatic late winner against Leicester to reach club's first Women's FA Cup final

Tottenham Hotspur Women 2 Leicester City 1

Tottenham Hotspur produced a dramatic comeback to beat Leicester City and reach the club’s first Women’s FA Cup final.

Martha Thomas’ header in the 118th minute sent Robert Vilahamn’s jubilant side to Wembley after a tense period of extra-time, on an afternoon where, for long periods, they had appeared set for semi-final heartbreak.

The home side’s staff and substitutes streamed onto the pitch in celebration upon hearing the full-time whistle, while several Leicester players sank to their knees or collapsed or fell to the floor in despair, at the end of a hard-fought contest..

Trailing to Jutta Rantala’s powerful first-half strike, the home side had looked set to disappoint the 18,078-strong crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but, on 83 minutes, winger Jessica Naz capitalised on Leicester defender Josie Green’s mistake and tucked home a clinical equaliser that brought real hope to the home supporters. A cagey extra-time period followed before Thomas attacked the penalty area and headed in to spark joyous scenes in north London.

Tottenham will go to Wembley on Sunday May 12 and meet either Manchester United or holders Chelsea, who meet in Sunday’s second semi-final at Leigh Sports Village.

For Swedish coach Vilahamn, reaching a domestic cup final in his first season in the English game represents a significant achievement, and underlines the improvements Tottenham have been making under his leadership.

His side are sixth in the Women’s Super League table, four points behind fifth-placed Liverpool with a game in hand, and knocked out title-chasing Manchester City in the quarter-finals.

Leicester were contesting this semi-final just 17 days on from the sacking of manager Willie Kirk, after a club investigation concluded that the Scottish coach had breached their code of conduct. Kirk, according to multiple sources and widespread media reports, is alleged to have had a relationship with a player. He has not commented on that allegation but has been contacted for a response. Their squad performed admirably under such challenging circumstances but were cruelly pipped at the death.

Going in the other direction, Watford’s relegation from the Championship was confirmed after they lost 2-0 at home to Charlton Athletic, leaving Watford seven points adrift with two matches remaining.

Match details

Tottenham Hotspur Women (4-3-3): Spencer 6; Neville 7, James-Turner 7, Buhler 6, Nilden 6 (Grant 6, 77); Summanen 5 (Ahtinen 6, 77), Spence 6 (Graham 7, 67), Clinton 7 (Vinberg 7, 77); Naz 7, England 6, Bizet 5 (Thomas 8, 58).
Subs not used: Votikova (gk), Bartrip, Petzelberger, Thomas, Wang.
Booked: James-Turner, Summanen.
Leicester City Women (4-1-4-1): Kop 7; Bott 7, Green 5 (Thibaud 6, 90), Howard 5, Cayman 6; Takarada 7 (Palmer 6, 98); Rantala 7, Tierney 7 (Pelgander 5, 59), Momiki 7 (A Whelan 5, 90), Rose 6 (O’Brien 6, 78); Petermann 6.
Subs not used: Leitzig (gk), Siemsen, Goodwin, Baker.
Booked: Green, Momiki, Bott.
Referee: Emily Heaslip (Bury St Edmunds).
Attendance: 18,078.

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