Keir Perkins running with the ball

Rio Hardy’s 30-yard strike knock Posh Women out of the FA Cup.

It was a resilient performance from Peterborough United at the Abbey Lawn, but Rio Hardy’s stunning strike from distance see Dan Lawlor’s side bow out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup in the third round following a 1-0 defeat to Barclays Women’s Championship side Durham Women on Sunday afternoon.

Unsurprisingly, Durham, who are two tiers above Posh and are full-time, looked the better side in the opening half, dominating possession across the pitch, but failed to break down a superb Posh defence, consisting of Evie Driscoll-King, Niamh Connor and Lucie Mugridge.

The hosts should have opened the scoring on six minutes as Jess Clarke’s delivery found Beth Hepple inside the box, whose side-footed effort went wide of the post. On 31 minutes, after a back-and-forth period, Hepple’s low-driven effort from the edge of the box looked to be heading into the bottom corner, but Neive Corry was down quickly to save the ball.

Posh received a free-kick in a dangerous area on 36 minutes, but Megan Lawlor’s effort was very comfortable for the Durham keeper. The visitors saw a couple of other chances before the half-time whistle, Dee Bradley’s effort went just wide of the far post, and another effort from a cross, which was dealt with confidently once again by Corry.

Coming out into the second half, Durham continued to search for an opener. A low cross on the 49 minutes found Hepple in the area, but a sublime block from Mugridge stopped the shot before being cleared by Driscoll-King.

Durham finally found their opener on 57 minutes and it was a cracker of a goal from the visitors as Rio Hardy’s unleashed a strike from around 30 yards out, hitting the underside of the crossbar before finding its way into the back of the net.

Just five minutes later, Hardy found herself in a dangerous area again after the ball found its way through to her, but Driscoll-King made her way across quickly with a last-ditch tackle.

Posh never faltered in effort and continued to push for an equaliser, but failed to find the target in the remaining minutes. Mugridge’s ball to Lawlor on the right side looked promising, but her cross was overhit and went over the bar.

Durham’s Saoirse Noonan’s effort from the edge of the box on 85 minutes looked like it was about to double the visitor’s lead, but another exceptional stop from Corry kept the ball out of the net.

Although Lawlor’s side bow out of their historic cup run, they can go out with their heads held high. Only conceding one goal from a wonderstrike, to a team that plays two tiers above them, is definitely nothing shy of exceptional.

Posh XI: Corry, Aylmer, Connor, Evans, Mugridge, Perkins, Steward (Oliveria, 76mins), Lawlor, Driscoll, Driscoll-King, Kirk.

Subs Not Used: Markwell, Hendrick.

Written by Charlie Jiggins.

Photo Credit: @RubyRedPhotography