Walsall Ladies were knocked out of the Staffordshire Ladies Challenge Cup as they were beaten 7-0 by a strong Stoke City side at a wet and windy Dales Lane.
The Saddlers were coming off the back of a trouncing in the League Cup at the hands of Walsall Wood last weekend and were prepared for another tough test against National League side Stoke.
Walsall manager Jason Barrowclough knew this game would be a tough ask after last weekend, but stressed that, when playing against a side of such quality, it was important to not get too caught up on the result.
And Stoke’s quality shone through early on.
Kelsey Richardson blasted in from close-range to give the visitors the lead within two minutes.
They doubled their lead six minutes later as Tash Baptiste bagged her first of the game with a low shot past Holly Cox in goal after a slick through ball from Holly Gibson.
Baptiste was at the centre of every positive move for Stoke, and had a couple of chances in quick succession to further add to Stoke’s advantage. Firstly, she had a shot blocked after good work down the right, then she headed in to the grateful arms of Cox after a lofted cross.
She eventually added to her and the team’s tallies, drilling in from close-range after 25 minutes.
Two minutes later, a fourth was scored as Amy Hughes’ glorious pass from the right was steered home by Roisin Kivel.
Although the score line suggested otherwise, Walsall were never outplayed at any point during the game.
Stoke’s quality made the difference, but the home side were not outfought and certainly worked as hard, if not harder, than the away side.
Stoke dominated the ball for most of the game, but they were frustrated in the second half by a combination of excellent defending and periods of good possession from the Saddlers.
Cox made a string of fantastic saves to deny Baptiste in the second period but was unable to stop Stoke scoring their sixth goal that was added with 20 minutes to play as Hollie Gibson struck a first-time effort from 30 yards out that flew in to the top corner, leaving supporters from both sides applauding.
A great strike from the left-back was backed up with 78 minutes on the clock as Baptiste bagged another goal which made it 0-7 and completed the scoring for the Potters.
Ella Pemberton tried her luck in the final stages of the game with the resulting effort hitting both the crossbar and the post.
That was the last of the action as Walsall Ladies were eliminated from the Staffordshire Ladies Challenge Cup with a 0-7 loss to Stoke City Ladies.
Photos courtesy of Jenny Merrett and Kevin Grice
Match Report by Will Madden