Reading’s Rachel Furness won the SSE Women’s FA Cup Player of the Round award for her performance in the quarter-final, as she helped to knock out Manchester United.
The Royals’ success was thanks in no small part to midfielder Furness, who helped Kelly Chambers’ troops twice battle back from falling behind during an unforgettable added period.
The Northern Ireland international would be lying if she said she wasn’t already dreaming of Wembley after her Player of the Round award.
A dramatic 3-2 victory in extra-time put Reading into the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in the club’s history, but it was by the skin of their teeth that they made it there.
Having played out a goalless 90 minutes, Chambers’ side twice came from behind after Furness first crossed for Remi Allen to loop a header home, before scoring herself to level things up.
With seconds left on the clock, substitute Rakel Honnudottir turned in a winner to send the Reading fans wild and dump Casey Stoney’s side out of the competition.
Furness’ contribution over the 120 mins was vital in teeing up an April semi-final against West Ham Untied and enough to bag her the Player of the Round mantle.
“I think it was just relief at the final whistle really,” revealed the Northern Ireland international.
“To win a game in the last 10 seconds is massive and I wouldn’t say we had very much luck this season but for that to go our way at the end of the game – it was just relief.
“You can’t lie and say you haven’t thought about the final. It is always in your mind and it is the first time we have got to the semi-finals as a club, so we will be putting in the preparations to make sure we make it to Wembley.
“It would be an amazing achievement to get there. We set goals at the beginning of the season and one of them was to make it to a cup final so that would tick that off.”
The semi-final will bring with it a milestone for Reading but for Furness it will also a chance to realise childhood dreams.
On the other side of the draw, current holders Chelsea will face an imperious Manchester City meaning that regardless of who goes through, there will be giant awaiting in the final.
“As soon as the whistle went I was overjoyed and now we are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and that is something you dream of as a little kid,” said the 30-year-old.
“It is a great achievement for me personally, but it is the whole team and squad that got us there.
“Winning the award feels great but it is for the team and the club – I am very happy with it.”
As the energy behind women’s football, SSE’s ambition is to support girls of all ages in England, helping them join in football from grassroots to the elite level. For more information on SSE’s sponsorships and activities visit sse.co.uk