Thomas heads Spurs’ to Wembley after last-four thriller

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Leicester City Women – Adobe Women’s FA Cup Semi-Final – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Report 

Tottenham Hotspur Women 2-1 Leicester City Women

Substitute Martha Thomas’ looping header deep into extra time proved to be the winner as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to beat Leicester City 2-1 in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup Semi-Final in front of a crowd of 18,078 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Despite Celin Bizet going close for Spurs twice early on, it was Leicester who took the lead after only twelve minutes after CJ Bott found Jutta Rantala to cut inside before spectacularly rifling home past keeper Becky Spencer from twenty yards out.

With just seven minutes left on the clock, Jessica Naz capitalised on a defensive mistake by former Spurs skipper Josie Green to sprint clear of the trailing Leicester defence before coolly despatching the ball into the bottom right corner to level the scores.

Spurs had two great chances to win the game near the end of normal time with Thomas and Charlotte Grant both going close.

Leicester had a great opportunity to retake the lead early in the first period of extra time when Rantala’s dipping free-kick was tipped onto the underside of the crossbar by Spencer but with the clock ticking down and penalties starting to look increasingly likely, with just two minutes of extra time remaining, Olga Ahtinen’s corner was only half cleared out of defence for Matilda Vinberg to play the ball back in for Thomas to nod over Lize Kop’s head to make it 2-1 and send Spurs through to Wembley for their first ever Women’s FA Cup Final, where they will meet last year’s finalists Manchester United on Sunday, May 12.

Martha Thomas celebrates her extra-time winner for Spurs (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Following the match, Spurs manager Robert Vilahamn spoke to – “I’m so happy. It was an amazing, amazing game, the fans were amazing, I just love this day.”

Reflecting on becoming the first Spurs manager to go to an FA Cup final in thirty-three years, he added: “I’m proud of it because we have done some really good stuff this year and this also shows how much we have developed and I think, how the players come back, Jess’ goal and how the fans lifted her to that goal basically – I just love it.

“We struggled in the first half, Leicester did well actually and in the second half, we tried to change tactically but we didn’t have the energy to threaten them. So we made a few changes and the main thing was to have Jess as a threat in behind and to have players in the pockets. We overloaded as we wanted more players to attack and we had really good energy in the last thirty to forty-five minutes.

“I’m always thinking positively but I can definitely say I didn’t expect us to be there this year but wow, we are actually there and we deserve to be because we have produced some really amazing performances.”

Tottenham Hotspur Women: Spencer, Neville, James-Turner, Bühler, Nildén (Grant 77′) Summanen (Ahtinen 77′) Spence (Graham 67′) Clinton (Vinberg 77′) Naz, England, Bizet Ildhusøy (Thomas 58′) Subs not used: Votíková, Bartrip, Petzelberger, Wang

Leicester City Women: Kop, Bott, Green (Thibaud 90′) Howard, Cayman, Takarada (Palmer 98′) Rantala, Tierney (Pelgander 59′) Momiki (Whelan 90′) Rose (O’Brien 78′) Petermann Subs not used: Leitzig, Siemsen, Goodwin, Baker

Referee: Emily Heaslip

Attendance: 18,078