Natasha Flint’s late rocket sent Leicester City into the FA Women’s League Cup semi-finals with a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.
Both sides missed a hatful of chances before Thursday’s tie was eventually decided by Flint’s 85th-minute thunderbolt from an indirect free-kick.
The hosts produced the first real scoring opportunity of the quarter-final when Bianca Baptiste’s flick on found Aoife Hurley unmarked in the six-yard box but her volley sailed over the bar
It was one-way traffic thereon as Leicester took control against their FA Women’s Championship rivals, with striker Flint trying to find her range but shooting wide from distance.
Flint had a second chance inside 20 minutes, this time from inside the penalty area, but Emma Gibbon did well to hold onto the powerful strike.
The Foxes continued to create the better chances and could have taken the lead just before the break but Gibbon once again kept Flint out before Lachante Paul blasted the rebound well over.
The visitors started the second half as they ended the first as Paul steered her effort just wide of the post.
Ashlee Hincks couldn’t convert a free-kick in a good position before Paul and Flint both missed chances at the other end.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, substitute Charlie Devlin unsuccessfully tried her luck with a volley from the edge of the box as the tie looked increasingly destined to finish in a stalemate.
But with five minutes remaining, up stepped Flint to fire in her 14th goal of the season – and there won’t have been many better.
Remi Allen touched an indirect free-kick off to Flint who fired an unstoppable piledriver into the top corner and sealed the Foxes’ place in the last four.
Hincks said: “It’s obviously disappointing to lose but I think we did ourselves proud and were in it the whole game right up until that wonder-strike.
“If you look at where we were last time we played them, we’ve come on huge amounts. We are still a relatively new squad and I think the performance was a good one to build from.
“We’ve had some good performances lately and we seem to be getting better and better so we are all happy.
“I was out for 15 months and tonight was my first start since then so on a personal note I was very happy to be back in amongst it.
“Far more importantly than that though, I am very proud of the team for matching Leicester. Game on next time we play them.”
To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com
PHOTO: KEITH GILLARD
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