football

Women’s FA Cup photo essay – road to Wembley, first round: Sporting Khalsa v Wolves


With only six miles separating the teams’ home grounds, the draw for the first round proper threw up a local derby between Sporting Khalsa and Wolverhampton Wanderers Women. The teams had previously faced each other once before, back in September 2020 when both sides were in the Women’s National League Division One (Midlands). Wolves won that match 5-0 and were promoted to the third-tier Northern Premier Division where they are unbeaten so far this season. Sporting Khalsa, who beat sixth-tier Thrapston Town to reach the first round, will have to be on the top of their game to cause an upset.

Fans gather before kick-off at the Guardian Warehousing Area in Willenhall.

Sporting Khalsa emerged from humble roots as a Sunday League side to become established as one of the most progressive grass roots outfits in the West Midlands. Established in 1991, Sporting Khalsa began playing senior football in the local Walsall & District Sunday leagues and, for two seasons between 1995 and 1997, the club played Saturday football at a semi-professional level. In 2005, Sporting Khalsa became the first Asian semi-professional football club in the country to take ownership of its own ground. Sporting Khalsa Women and Girls was established in 2015 following a merger with FC Reedswood.

Jake Jones, Security – Sporting Khalsa
Sporting Khalsa captain Louisa Anderson gets ready in the home dressing room.
The Wolves dressing room ahead of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup 1st round proper match between Sporting Khalsa and Wolverhampton Wanderers Women.
Wolves fans ahead of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup 1st round proper match between Sporting Khalsa and Wolverhampton Wanderers Women.
The Wolves players warm up ahead of kick off.
Members of the Sporting Khalsa Women under 8s team, who are acting as team mascots, have a kick about on the pitch

Bella, Mya, Talula and Lala, members of the Sporting Khalsa under-eights team and team mascots for the match. “What has brought you here today?” We like supporting Sporting Khalsa. “Do you have any favourite players?” I like No 2, she’s putting all the pressure on. “Do you think Sporting Khalsa are going to win today?” Yes, they’ve got a chance.”

Derek Draisey, a visiting Wolves fan
Players, staff, officials and fans pay their respects during a minutes silence as part of remembrance commemorations before the match

After a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day, the match kicks off. With just six minutes on the clock, Wolves keeper Shan Turner is beaten by a fantastic diving header from Megan Cann to give the home side the lead.

Wolves keeper Shan Turner was beaten by a fantastic diving header from Megan Cann
Sporting Khalsa players celebrate after Megan Cann gave them an early lead
Fans enjoy the atmosphere.
Sporting Khalsa keeper Stacey Garnham makes a save.

After going behind, Wolves step up a gear creating a number of chances but are kept at bay by the woodwork, quality keeping by Stacey Garnham and sterling work by the Sporting Khalsa defence.

Sporting Khalsa defend a Wolves attack.

The visitors break through with two goals in first-half stoppage time from Tammi George (below left) and Amber Hughes (below right) to go into the break 2-1 up.

Wolves’ Tammi George and Amber Hughes celebrate after a goal.

They’re good girls, they play really, really well. Sometimes they play better than these (pointing at World Cup qualifier on TV). To be fair, I think they should be on telly – Nikki Evans & Kaz Bennett, Wolves fans (below)

Nikki Evans & Kaz Bennett – Wolves fans
Amber Hughes continued to cause the Sporting Khalsa defence problems in the second half.

Hughes continues to cause the Sporting Khalsa defence problems in the second half, scoring in the 56th minute and completing her hat-trick seven minutes later.

Wolves’ Summer Holmes celebrates their fourth goal.
A young Wolves fan with a ball
Wolves fans celebrate

With the home side having to chase the game, Hughes gets her fourth and George her second, with substitute Anna Price also on target as Wolves complete a convincing 7-1 victory and a place in the second round. They will host fellow third-tier side Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Sporting Khalsa players, staff and macots after the final whistle.

Goalkeeper Stacey Garnham is voted Sporting Khalsa’s player of the match by the manager, Kelly Williams.

Wolves’ Kate Evans (right) and Tammi George celebrate their victory with a young fan after the Vitality Women’s FA Cup 1st round proper match between Sporting Khalsa and Wolverhampton Wanderers Women.



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