AFC Bournemouth Women made history this afternoon, as they reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for just the second time in their history following a 3-1 win over National League outfit, Buckland Athletic.
Molly Clark bagged a hat-trick, as the Cherries hit the woodwork on four further occasions at a wet and windy Verwood Town.
Steve Cuss named an unchanged side from that which overcame Southampton Women two weeks ago, with the hosts dominating from the off this afternoon.
AFC Bournemouth started strongly and it took some superb goalkeeping to keep a trio of early shots out.
Abigail Bond first saved low from Gemma Hillier, before Helen Corbin’s follow up was pushed onto the bar. Clark then couldn’t convert as it fell to her five yards out, seeing her header superbly cleared off the line.
Abby Jones was next to cause problems for the Buckland defence, playing a beautiful ball through to Clark, who this time saw her shot dragged wide.
The Cherries kept pushing and saw more chances come and go, as Hillier forced another good save out of Bond before Clark hit the post after Becky Barron’s lofted ball over the top.
Katie Kingshott then tried her luck from range, seeing her effort on target comfortably held, before Corbin also tested the visiting ‘keeper with a low drive.
The deadlock was, however, finally broken and it was none other than new signing Clark who got it.
Receiving the ball 25-yards out, she lifted her head and struck a powerful effort over the ‘keeper to give the Cherries a much-deserved lead.
The persistence from Cuss’ side paid off and they were duly rewarded with a second just before the break.
The ball was played in from the right to Clark, who first tried to flick it beyond Bond, the shot-stopper there to prevent it crossing the line again. The central midfielder then saw her header saved from the initial rebound, before reacting quickest to boot it home and double her side’s lead at the third attempt.
As the second half began, the Cherries came out firing and Hillier was ready to put it into the back of the net, only to see the flag raised for offside after Clark had played her through.
Corbin then looked to make it three moments later, Barron playing a delightful ball into her feet on the right-hand side of the box, again requiring a point-blank save from Bond.
Up the other end of the pitch, Buckland looked for a reply through Courtney Butt, but her header was claimed by Katie Scadding after Natalie Warman had floated it into the box.
It didn’t rock Cuss’ side, who were soon back on the attack, this time Hillier hitting the post with a low shot from a tight angle.
Minutes later, the post came to the rescue again for the visitors, this time Barron setting up Hannah Bennett, who thought she’d added what would’ve been a much-deserved third.
Nevertheless, the hosts just kept on going and, with the clock ticking down, Clark completed her hat-trick, robbing the centre-back of the ball and coolly finishing into the bottom corner.
However, there was still some drama in the dying stages as the visitors were awarded a penalty after the referee adjudged that Emma Davis had brought down Abi Meyer in the box.
Sarah Stacey stepped up and made no mistake, smashing the spot-kick into the top corner and leaving Scadding with no chance.
It didn’t stop Cuss’ side from going in search of a fourth, with Barron almost rounding the day off, but she couldn’t quite get on the end of Clark’s cross in stoppage time.
The Cherries will now go into the hat for the first round draw, which takes place tomorrow at 1pm. Details of the game and information regarding further fixtures will be announced on afcb.co.uk as soon as we receive guidance from the Government and FA.
AFC Bournemouth Women are proudly supported by two local companies.
Thank you to Bournemouth University for being the front of shirt sponsor and thank you to Vitality for supporting our women’s and girls' setup.