There was late heartbreak for Morecambe Ladies on their big day at the Globe Arena as Stoke City struck late to reach the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup.
Ashleigh Hayes scored her second with time almost up as the Women’s Premier League side came from 2-1 down to avoid an upset.
The hosts made the worst possible start on the big stage, Hayes bundling home Hannah Bailey’s right wing cross from close range to give the Potters a second minute lead.
The Shrimps’ first sight of goal came in the 11th minute but Jennifer Keane’s shot from 15 yards was tame after she was found by skipper Hannah Paling.
Stoke were a constant menace in the final third however and should have made it two shortly after the quarter hour.
Hayes shrugged off Jade Thornhill and Jo Norris down the right before turning provider for Barnes who could only slice wide from 10 yards.
The Potters’ Ladies continued to look the more likely with Barnes and Hayes to the fore as Shrimps hot shot Megan Doherty, who came in for some rough treatment, fed off scraps.
Kate Asher was the next to go close for the visitors but her turn and shot went narrowly wide on 28 minutes.
Morecambe went straight up the other end and had their best opening with Keane bringing a sharp save from Alice Langstone at her near post.
The resultant set of corners brought the leveller however, the third of Becky Whittingham’s centres being nodded home by Doherty on the half hour.
Hayes then again went close for Stoke, dragging a shot wide from inside the area as the game went from end to end.
It was the visitors who came the closest to having an advantage at the break as Morecambe diced with danger before surviving a goal-mouth scramble two minutes before the interval.
Having battled hard in the opening period the Shrimps went ahead five minutes after the interval.
Langstone raced from her goal to battle with Doherty and the ball fell for Keane who guided a fine effort from 25 yards beyond the despairing dive of Meg Bowyer and in.
Stoke went straight on the front foot after the goal with some frantic Morecambe defending needed to keep the favourites on the day at bay.
Despite their territorial dominance the Potters didn’t test Reader who saved Abby Hunt’s shot from distance with ease 20 minutes from time.
Morecambe struggled to keep hold of possession as Stoke kept coming and the visitors got their golden opportunity from the spot 15 minutes from time.
Doherty brought down Laura Garside with a clumsy challenge in the area and Courtney Jones made no mistake from the spot firing high in to the roof of the net.
The goal set up a thrilling finale with both sides going for a winner with Whittingham having a shot blocked for Morecambe before Reader saved well from Garside at her near post.
But it was Stoke who got the decisive goal, Hayes hammering home from 15 yards as Morecambe failed to clear a corner with their first ever appearance at the Globe Arena ending in disappointment.