Sheffield FC will be playing Super League football next season after a stunning finale to their campaign.
A goal in the 90th minute from Lisa Giampalma propelled the Steel City ladies to play off glory at the expense of Portsmouth.
That crucial goal at Stratford Town’s DCS Stadium means that Sheffield, just three years after making it into the Women’s Premier League, will now be mixing it with some of the biggest clubs in the country in Super League Two.
Captain Carla Ward, who before the game, had stated that this would be the biggest match of her footballing career, praised the Pompey ladies, but said it was Sheffield’s team spirit that got them over the line to ensure an historic day for a club that, not so long ago, was playing at the very foot of the women’s football pyramid.
“It is unbelievable. We have all stuck together and we’ve got there in the end,” said the skipper. “We always knew that, with one chance on goal, we had the ability to win it.
“I feel for Portsmouth. They were brilliant. It was just a case of trying to get in behind them, and we finally did.”
Goal heroin Giampalma had the chance to put Sheffield FC into the lead early on after latching onto a pass from Emma Johnson, however having rounded Pompey keeper Courtney Trodd, the striker’s shot landed on the roof of the net.
A superb save from Trodd denied Sheffield on the stroke of half time as Jodie Michalska’s goal bound long-range free kick was brilliantly clawed away.
Johnson was guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance midway through the second half when she too rounded Trodd, but fired wide.
At the other end Sheffield keeper Claire Wallhead produced a fine save to prevent Lucy Quinn from putting Portsmouth into the lead and then bettered that with a terrific save to deny Charley Wilson.
Then in injury time Giampalma won it after collecting a pass from Michalska, taking the ball round Trodd and sliding it into the empty net.