Another astonishing goal from Justine Robinson won a roller-coaster game for Pools Women on Sunday as they beat Blackburn Community 4-3 to progress in the FA Cup.
The skipper unleashed an incredible volley from 25 yards which flashed across the keeper and in to the top right-hand corner of the net to finally settle an incredible cup tie at East Durham College.
Before that, the game had swung one way then another as Pools’ North West Regional Women’s Football League Division One visitors gave as good as they got in heavy rain in Peterlee.
Caitlin Bates came close to opening the scoring with a fine curling effort from twenty yards early on but the Blackburn keeper jumped to her right to make a magnificent save.
However, Pools failed to build on any early momentum and the away side began to settle in to the game before taking the lead on 22 minutes when keeper Becks Lillystone parried a low drive which was then converted on the rebound.
It took Pools only six minutes to respond though, and it was Robinson who came up with the goods when she spun thirty yards out and sent a perfectly placed lob over the stranded Blackburn keeper.
And, when Jenni Duffy-Smith’s inswinging corner from the right curled straight in to the net to make it 2-1 five minutes before half-time, Pools were expected to go on and take hold of the tie.
However, the spirited visitors came back at Pools and got on level terms nine minutes in to the second half when a wicked free-kick from the right was whipped over Lillystone and in to the far top corner.
It got even better for the Lancashire outfit four minutes later when a cross from the left was well controlled by the striker in the middle, who then turned to lash an unstoppable finish in to the roof of the net to give them a 3-2 lead.
Pools once again responded quickly as, just a minute later, Bates escaped through on goal down the right and sent a low finish back across the keeper which a recovering defender couldn’t keep out on the line.
Bates tested the Blackburn keeper with another well-struck drive just afterwards but Pools were also thankful to a brilliant finger-tip save from Lillystone at the other end to prevent the visitors from restoring their lead.
The decisive moment arrived on 71 minutes. The ball sat up invitingly for Robinson on the left of the area and she made a sweet contact on the volley with the outside of her right boot to give the keeper no chance.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game and, after some nervous moments during some six minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle cued scenes of celebration as Pools clinched their place in the next round of the FA Cup.
“I’m a very happy coach after watching that,” admitted boss Jonathan Gibbon-Hayes.
“We weren’t at our best and a lot of credit has to go to Blackburn Community because they’re a very good side who caused us problems all afternoon.
“We didn’t really help ourselves with giving away some needless fouls and inviting pressure but when you’ve got a player of the quality of Justine Robinson in your team then you’ve always got a chance.
“It was a wonderful strike for the winner, I am not sure you’ll see a shot hit cleaner than that anywhere this season, it was superb.
“It’s a special feeling knowing we’re in to the next round.”
The draw takes place on Monday lunchtime and we’ll have full details here on the Official Website.
Full Time: Pools 4 Blackburn Community 3
Pools: Lillystone, Bartlett, A Smith, Stuart, Stabler, Rowbotham, Duffy-Smith, Ingram (Robson 70), Robinson, Foster (Pye 76), Bates.
Subs not used: Skull, Henry, Portas, Hammond-Garrington.