FA Women’s Super League newcomers Sheffield booked their place in the first round proper of the Continental Tyres Cup with a 3-1 win over WSL 2 rivals Durham.
Emma Johnson’s superb first-half strike from the edge of the box put the hosts ahead, before Rachel Lee’s equally accurate effort looked to have sent the game to extra-time.
But substitute Chelsea Flanagan had other ideas, smashing home into the top corner with just over five minutes of the game remaining.
Loanee Hannah Dale then clinched it in stoppage time with a precise free-kick which left Helen Alderson stranded.
Jordan Atkinson – who scored the winner when the two sides met in March – had several chances to score for Durham, the best coming in the first half when she was left one-on-one with Juliana Draycott but her touch let her down.
Flanagan’s inspired strike came from nowhere for the hosts, as Durham looked to take the initiative in tough conditions after equalising, but as well as Dale’s effort it was enough to ensure Sheffield progress passed the preliminary round under the competition’s new format.
Zoe Johnson’s side will now face FA WSL 2 leaders Bristol City at Dronfield in July.
Sheffield FC Ladies (4-2-3-1): Juliana Draycott; Lynn Goodman, Emma Lipman, Danielle Cox, Emily Owen; Hannah Dale, Emma Johnson; Rhema Lord-Mears, Carla Ward, Ellie Gilliatt; Jodie Michalska. Substitutes: Hope Knight for Emily Owen 46, Chelsea Flanagan for Rhema Lord-Mears 65. Substitutes not used: Claire Wallhead, Billie Murphy
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