BOWERS & Pitsea Ladies held their nerve in order to book their place in the second round of the Women’s Isthmian League Cup.

Having played out a 3-3 draw with Phoenix Sports, the tie went to penalties.

And Bowers ran out 4-1 winners on spot-kicks, much to the delight of boss Darren Fraser.

“Both teams were going into the unknown because of not playing in the competition before, so it was pleasing to come away having booked our place in the next round,” he said.

“After a goalless first half, we went ahead before they equalised.

“We then had a two-goal cushion, but they got a goal back and then scored an equaliser from a corner in the last minute.

“It was quite a good game, with some nice football played by both sides.

“They were very young, fit and fast but we managed to contain them at times.”

After both sides had failed to break the deadlock in the first half, Georgia Fraser grabbed the opening goal 10 minutes after the break.

But, within a minute of play restarting, Phoenix were back on level terms as sloppy defending from the visitors allowed the hosts’ striker to round goalkeeper Charlotte Stephens and slot into the empty net.

The goals continued to come and Bowers restored their lead when a corner was not dealt with and Sophie Dowman was on hand to smash the ball home just past the hour mark.

Bowers gave themselves a two-goal cushion with a quarter of the game to go.

A goalmouth scramble ended with Kerri Thomas converting from close range.

But Phoenix were not willing to go out of the competition without a fight and pulled a goal back to half the deficit with 11 minutes still on the clock.

And Phoenix equalised deep in stoppage time to force penalties.

While the home side only scored one of their efforts, Dowman, Natalie Strange, Georgia Fraser and Louise Daly converted their spot-kicks.

But Darren Fraser admitted his players did not practice penalties before the encounter.

He added: “We don’t tell them to practice penalties.

“All I tell them is that it’s about placement rather than power and that it’s always best to go for the bottom or top corners.

“My daughter, Georgia, clearly took no notice of me because she went straight down the middle!

“But, luckily, the goalkeeper had already dived.”