Newcastle United set new attendance record as Amanda Staveley’s exciting plans progress

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Newcastle United Women set a new FA Cup attendance record in dramatic 2-1 victory over Barnsley Women at St James’ Park.

Newcastle United Women set a new Vitality FA Cup attendance record as a St James’ Park crowd of 28,565 watched Becky Langley’s side come from 1-0 down to beat Barnsley after two incredible strikes by Georgia Gibson and Sharna Wilkinson.

Both Gibson and Wilkinson scored from near-enough the halfway line as two goals in four second-half minutes cancelled out Emily Pierrepont’s 15th-minute opener to book the Lady Magpies’ place in the third round of the competition.

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In May, over 22,000 was in attendance as Becky Langley’s side marked their St James’ Park debut with a 4-0 win over Alnwick Town. And on a cold afternoon in December, that previous figure was smashed to set a new attendance record for an FA Cup match outside a final.

Just three points separate Newcastle and Barnsley in the FA Women’s National League Division One North table after Katie Barker’s last-minute goal settled a tight affair at Druid Park less than a month ago. The visitors weren’t just on Tyneside to make up the numbers, and so that proved in the opening stages.

They took the lead just 15 minutes in when Pierrepont unleashed a powerful strike to beat United skipper Grace Donnelly from 20 yards. Nat Watson threatened to replicate Pierrepont a minute or so later but this time, Donnelly was able to keep it out.

St James’ Park, bar the small section of visiting supporters in the Leazes East Corner, was stunned into silence but quickly responded to Newcastle’s efforts to find an equaliser. Barker, who broke the deadlock on her last visit, forced a strong save from Serena Clarke, while the Barnsley goalkeeper also denied Kacie Elson moments later.

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United’s momentum tailed off when heading into half-time, however, and Langley responded with a double substitution on 65 minutes when Millie Bell and Wilkinson were introduced. The home side needed something special against a resolute Barnsley defence and that arrived, three minutes later, when Gibson equalised from distance.

But what Gibson could do, Wilkinson could do better when she replicated her teammate’s heroics with a similar strike. Indeed, two goals of the highest quality proved to be the difference - a superb advert for Women’s Football as the Geordie nation showed its support in their thousands.

Promotion to the Premier Division tops Amanda Staveley’s ambitious plans but the FA Cup run is providing further excitement with the possibility of the Lady Magpies drawing a Championship club in the next round.

Newcastle United: Grace Donnelly, Charlotte Potts, Beth Guy, Freya Bailes, Katie Barker, Georgia Gibson (Gillian Oyos, 87), Kacie Elson (Millie Bell, 65), Lauren Robson, Keira Skelton, Ellie Dobson (Sharna Wilkinson, 65), Daisy Burt. Subs not used: Frankie Hackett, Emma Wallis, Jane Harland, Lois Greenslade.

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