WANDERERS Ladies picked up yet another cup scalp as they qualified for the semi-final of the FAWNL Cup for the first time in their history.

Stoke City joined Derby County and Hull City on the Bolton hit-list, albeit by the narrowest of margins in a thrilling encounter at the Skuna Stadium.

Chris Knight’s side were trailing to an Ashley Hayes goal until the 91st minute but just as they looked to be exiting the competition, Rosie Havelin scooped in a corner to force the tie into extra time.

Another energy-sapping half an hour followed, worse still for Wanderers who had beaten league leaders Burnley with a late goal just a few days earlier.

But after the teams still could not be separated, Bolton held their nerve to win the shootout 4-3 and claim a semi-final against either Coventry or Crawley Wasps.

The victory was made all the more remarkable by the fact Wanderers had been forced to bring in some late replacements to supplement the squad, including former skipper Kate Miller, who had announced her retirement at the start of the season.

“Hayley, our regular centre-back, is a teacher and she was away with her class on a skiing trip,” said head coach, Knights. “We’d signed a few players during the course of the season too, and they were cup-tied.

“Being honest, we never expected to get this far. So having got to the game we asked Kate to come back, go out there and just enjoy it.

“After extra time I’m not sure she wasn’t regretting it. There were some really, really tired legs out there. They’d put so much into the game against Burnley.

“But they deserve all the praise they get. It’s a good group and they have worked so hard this season, done well in the other cup competitions too. Now we’ve got a semi final to look forward to and you just never know.”

The league cup starts with 72 teams and after beating Barnsley 4-3 in the opening round Wanderers went to Derby and won by the odd goal in three.

A home victory against Hull City was followed by another against Stoke – which comfortably qualifies as the longest cup run in Bolton’s existence.

So unexpected has Wanderers’ journey to the last four been that Knights doesn’t know where the final will be played this season.

Last year, Blackburn triumphed at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium and Rovers could well be involved again this year if they get past Huddersfield Town, then Loughborough Foxes in the semis.

For Wanderers, their success in the cups has come at a price. Fixtures are piling up, leaving them with a mammoth task on their hands if they are to secure the one promotion spot into National League North.

“We had a rocky start, which didn’t help,” explained Knight. “It put us off the pace but the cup games have added up, so we’re really only halfway through our season.

“Realistically it will take a lot to catch Burnley. We’d have to win all our games in hand and hope they drop points, but we finished fourth last season so if we can better that with a better points tally then it’s progress and you can’t ask for more."

Wanderers have improved their squad recently with the signing of Natalie Richardson from Ipswich, and Knights is confident that the group can push even harder for promotion next season.

“We have got a good group, a real togetherness," he told The Bolton News. "If we can keep hold of those players – and there has been a lot of interest in them, to be honest – then I think we can have a real crack at it next season, all things being well.

“I honestly believe we could cope comfortably with the league above. Since the league was restructured it has made things a bit uneven, and there are a couple of clubs in our division who would say the same.

"But I fancy our chances."