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The Everton Seven

Nottingham Forest 1-7 Everton (Women’s FA Cup Round Five)

It’s Superbowl Sunday and I’m warming up for an all nighter as Forest women take on Everton in the FA Cup. Yesterday, WSL side Leicester trounced Championship outfit Birmingham 6-2 in front of my very eyes. The gulf of class is huge between the leagues in women’s football and Forest are two divisions below Everton who all be it, haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders this season.

The Toffees, tenth in the WSL are huge though, 41 years old they’ve been a mainstay in the top echelons of the game and their side is littered with internationals, most famously in Toni Duggan an England legend of 79 caps and 22 goals, a player in her second spell at her hometown club after a bundle of honours at Manchester City, Barcelona and most recently Atletico Madrid.

Forest themselves are in the women’s National League North (tier 3) sitting second behind leaders Newcastle United. They have done supremely well to get this far but anyone expecting them to go further might be away with the fairies… Last time the Reds faced top division opposition in Manchester City they lost 8-0 in the FA Cup fourth round, keeping that potential score down today is about as good as they can hope for.

I’ve arrived in Long Eaton for shortly after 3pm, turning in off the Station Road there’s a huge queue of cars for parking, it seems today could be a busy one, as I reverse back, swing it around and pull up on a side street to ensure I get a quicker exit.

The Venue

Usually free to park, today it’s £5 a car and it looks like the club leasing the venue will make a killing, I’m walking up the driveway of Long Eaton United FC to the ground as cars do what I do and refuse to pay, turning back on themselves to street park and walk the extra couple of hundred yards, luckily they’ve opened a gate in the corner of Grange Park so you don’t need to walk all the way around, as I enter through a Forest logoed gazebo with a glance of my mobile ticket taken by a smiling steward, I’m impressed with the vibe and chaos created, a packed house of young and old, male and female, red and blue, as the players warming up kick balls into the crowd standing at the open ends behind each goal.

I’m having a quick cuppa and a twix before walking around, through the people, towards the top of the main stand, where they have desks today, just a couple of media personnel, usually there’s a couple of blue flip down tables at the back of the stand but they’ve installed some temporary measures, although other than the two teams tweeters and a University journalist there’s not many taking advantage of the tables, the seats around packed as people ask already perched viewers to budge up, so they can take a pew.

The view from up here is elevated, slightly blinded to the right corner it’s a good view set back, the dugouts widely separated over the other side each end of a roofed terrace that runs the middle, open ends behind each goal, to my left you can see the smoke of Ratcliffe Power Station in the distance, every now and again a train horn sounds, the Nottingham to London service is a regular past the back end of the town.

The Game

The crowd is bubbling and it seems a real party atmosphere as the players are applauded off from their warm ups with a chorus of ‘You Reds’. There’s a few minor celebs here. Ryhanna Parara a women’s tik-tok social influencer is in attendance, Leicester manager Willie Kerr is here, Toni Duggan is being hugged by some girl in a New York Yankies hat, they look like they haven’t seen eachother for a while, whilst Edin, he who owns Sexy Mama Loves Spaghetti (if you know Nottingham you know), is looking for somewhere to sit.

The two teams are back out to roars ahead of the match, the Everton fans behind the goal are signing as Mull of Kintyre quietly plays, and Nottingham Forest get to action, readied by Manager Carly Davies, on the front foot, they press and push Everton back, perhaps it’ll be tighter than first thought?

Louanne Worsey fires over from close range, she should have scored, but Emily Batty in the Reds goal is forced into action too. It’s the Reds who’ll be happiest in the early exchanges, then Harkin gets caught napping, Kuhl is running through, Kuhl as you like is the finish.

Nil one and no shame in that as Forest press again, the first half is even but a corner is conceded, whipped in and nodded home for a second, Piemonte who’s been caught offside on a number of occasions, heading in from inside the six yard box.

It’s been the only difference, a mistake capitalised on and a header from a set play, the Everton girls look bigger, taller, stronger than Forest, they’re neat and sharp on the ball but Forest are first to everything, fighting hard and not giving their opponents an inch, one wonders if all that effort will tire late in the second half?

The Score

Two-nil at the break there’s still hope for Forest, all be it small, they come out of the traps though and Greengrass gets a sniff, she’s in on goal and pokes it home, the crowd go wild, a real roar as the Reds score, a huge wave of optimism now shared by many inside the ground.

But Everton immediately go up the other end and score a third, another corner, another header, this time centre half Justine Vanhaevermaet who’s huge, she must be 6ft2in. Again the difference, the height is impossible to defend from corners which in fairness are brilliantly whipped in under Emily Batty’s bar.

The reds continue to push but you sense they’re running out of steam, 73 minutes have gone and they have competed well, Everton just beginning to find more room, more space, suddenly a shot from outside the box rockets off the post, hits Batty on the back, and the away side have a fortuitous fourth, this before another tall player, Emma Bissell also nods home from close range, her family in the crowd enjoying that one.

As some fans start to head for the exits, although credit most who stay to the end, Everton are awarded a soft penalty for a trip inside the area, Toni Duggan steps up to score in front of her own partisan fans behind the goal, then late on it’s rounded off, a seventh and one for Hannah Bennison, Everton have come in to their own as the clock ticks down, and started to really run away in rampant fashion.

The Stars

It’s harsh on Forest who for seventy minutes are more than competitive, conceding four in the last quarter to slightly squander their earlier hard work, but credit their players who put in a shift, and for long periods looked more than capable of creating an upset.

It wasn’t to happen, because Everton’s quality came through, Arsenal loanee Kuhl and Italian international Galli impressive in midfield, Bissell was decent down the left, Hope was good down the right, Piemonte in attack a large threat when staying onside but Forest’s Mai Moncaster, Charlotte Greengrass, Sophie Domingo, in fact the whole Garibaldi team, certainly played their part.

The Verdict

Everton face West Ham in a six pointer next weekend but they’ll now be hoping they can also proceed further in the cup. Forest can focus on league action in the know that these games against the big girls in the big leagues help, they’ll learn from playing against the best as they look to climb the pyramid and one day have a team that can compete more evenly at the top.

The Teams

Nottingham Forest: Emily Batty, Natalie Johnson, Abbie Cowie, Lyndsey Harkin, Olivia Cook, Louanne Worsey, Becky Anderson, Holly Manders (Ella Haughey 77), Sophie Domingo, Mai Moncaster (Chloe Dixon 77).

Everton: Courtney Brosnan, Megan Finnigan, Elise Stenevik, Justine Vanhaevermaet (Annie Wilding 85), Lucy Graham, Clare Wheeler (Hannah Bennison 60), Aurora Galli, Katherine Kuhl (Eleanor Dale 75), Emma Bissell, Katja Snoeijs (Karoline Olsen 75), Martina Piemonte (Toni Duggan 60).

4:00pm Kick Off. Sunday 11th February 2024, Grange Park, Long Eaton (att 1,130).

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Martin Taylor
Martin Taylor
Feb 12

I read on the BBC website it was a full house sell-out, was that right ?

1,130 excellent.

Daniel Peacock
Daniel Peacock
Feb 13
Replying to

Yeah i've not seen Long Eaton so packed! cars queuing in and out ahead of the game, a real buzz around the place, all good for the community, not so good for the neighbours, all fans staying until the end despite the result, I watch a lot of WSL football and not many clubs have the backing that Forest can potentially get!

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