Northampton Town Women lost 3-0 at home to Stoke City in the FA Women’s National League Cup determining round on Sunday afternoon.
The Cobblers will enter the FAWNL Plate first round following the defeat to their Northern Premier Division opponents.
Joint-managers Josh Oldfield and Liam Williams made three changes to the side that began the league season with a win at home to rivals Peterborough United last week, as TJ Warren, Beth Artemiou and Mia Richards replaced Vicky Barrett, Laila Channell and Alex Dicks in the starting line up.
Bianca Luttman and Katie McLean dealt with a low ball across the face of goal and the ‘keeper dived to her left to push away a driven free-kick from 25 yards as the Cobblers were put under pressure early on.
Their opponents opened the scoring in the 11th minute when a corner was cleared to Molly Holder 12 yards out, and she hooked into the far corner from a tight angle.
McLean made another diving save to deny a curled effort from the edge of the area on the quarter-of-an-hour mark, after which the Cobblers began to grow into the tie and make entries into the final third.
However, Stoke doubled their lead on the half-hour when another corner was cleared but Heidi Logan maintained possession in the box and found the back of the net on the turn.
Richards’ cross was blocked at the near post and Jade Bell’s low ball into the middle was cleared as the Cobblers created their best two chances within a minute of each other late in the half, but the visitors extended their advantage in the time that remained before the break.
A deep free-kick was cleared to the far post, but Holder picked up on the loose ball and converted to double her tally.
The Cobblers threatened early in the second period, Kim Farrow curling a free-kick from the edge wide of the far post.
A loose defensive pass wrong-footed Georgie Ferguson and almost rolled across the line and substitute Ona Ndefo was denied by the ‘keeper from close range as the hosts continued to search for a route back into the contest on the hour mark.
Stoke regained their control of possession after the flurry of Cobblers chances early in the half, McLean making a one-handed save to tip a long-range effort over.
The hosts went straight up the other end and came inches from pulling a goal back, Bell shifting the ball onto her right foot and firing a strike towards the near post which hit the top of the crossbar.
McLean made a similar stop to the one earlier in the half to cap-off an impressive individual performance late on, this time palming a powerful shot away from goal.
Her side were unable to make a dent on the first half scoreline as their place in the FAWNL Plate first round was confirmed.
Oldfield and Williams’ side return to FAWNL Division One Midlands action away to new opposition in Loughborough Lightning next week. The Cobblers’ opponents were relegated from the Northern Premier Division last season.
Cobblers: Katie McLean, Paige Ridley, Bianca Luttman, Ruby Heselden, Zoe Boote, TJ Warren, Annie Villamartin, Beth Artemiou, Mia Richards, Jade Bell, Kim Farrow
Substitutes: Holly Mayfield, Cassidy Flynn, Rhea Patel, Ona Ndefo