After away wins over Warrington, Bishop Auckland, Chesterfield and Chorley en route to their tie against Middlesbrough, the Hatters travelled to Billingham Town FC for their hotly-anticapted clash on Teeside.
County were without a number of first-team players, Katie Brusell, Jeneyah Webb and Jade White still out with injury. Chaneece Reeves and Shellby Wolstencroft were late withdrawals, both dropping out of the squad on matchday, while Emma Massey was also unavailable. This allowed for call-ups for Imogen Porteous-Williams and Yasmin Ahmed, with the former starting the game. The side were also two coaches short, with Dave Billington and Chris Cookson unable to travel for personal reasons, meaning Peter Attfield took goalkeeping coach duties pre-match.
A quick break from kickoff got the game underway, as Chloe Mapp started the game with a long ball over the the right flank, which was duly met Hanna Wilson in a good position. The early pressure from the visitors almost lead to a goal, with Abi Hayes striking over the bar from close range.
The home side then took control of the game, having the majority of the ball for the majority of the first period, while also coming close a few times themselves with a number of good chances. If not for some brilliance from Blackett in the County goal, the home side could have very much been ahead by the halfway mark.
HT | Middlesbrough 0-0 County
The second half seemed to be much of the same, however County began to make good runs in behind. Hayes was making life difficult for the 'Boro defence. The traditional 4-3-1-2 formation became, at times, a flatter 4-3-3 as the Hatters continued to try and break down the Reds.
County very nearly took the lead through Jodie Hancock as the home 'keeper fumbled a corner, which was well whipped in by O'Reilly. Both Hancock and Connor we stood by the far post however neither of them were able to direct the ball goalless.
Boro eventually broke the deadlock on the counter. A good ball through found the feet of the attacker, but Lauren Blackett was there to make the block. Blackett then lost control of the ball, resulting in a simple tap-in for Eleanor Dale, giving the home side the lead.
From then on, Boro continued to pile on the pressure, coming close a number of times before referee, Andy Himsworth, called an end to play and an end to County's FA Cup exploits this season.
FT | Middlesbrough (Dale 70') 1-0 County
Squad: Blackett, Wilson, O'Reilly, Hancock, Connor (C), John, Jones, Porteous-Williams (Replaced by Ahmed), Mapp, Douglas, Hayes
Unused Sub(s): Attfield
POTM: Sophie John
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For the manager's interview, click below.