Continental Cup: Lincoln defeat Liverpool on penalties

Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was the hero as Lincoln reached the Women's Super League's Continental Cup final with a penalty shoot-out win at Liverpool.

Recent Lincoln signing Courtney Sweetman-Kirk cancelled out Natasha's Dowie's early opener as the tie finished 1-1 after extra-time.

England keeper Bardsley then saved from Dowie and Louise Fors to earn the visitors a 4-2 shoot-out success.

Lincoln had lost at the semi-final stage in each of the last two years.

They had to battle their way back into the game after Liverpool made a lightning start, Dowie putting them in front after just 24 seconds.

What is the Continental Cup?

The Continental Cup, so named for sponsorship reasons, features the eight Women's Super League sides. Two groups of four compete in a round robin before the top two progress to knockout semi-finals and then a final.

The striker was inches away from a second goal as Liverpool looked to increase their lead, but Lincoln hit back with some dangerous counter-attacks.

The home side were looking the more likely scorers, however, and from a Nicole Rolser through-ball Dowie shot narrowly wide.

Winger Rolser went close herself on the stroke of half-time, firing in a shot that Bardsley had to tip over the bar.

But the Imps drew level four minutes after the break, Sweetman-Kirk forcing the ball in after goalkeeper Rachel Laws had failed to hold a cross.

The visitors were denied a second goal when Laws made a fine save from Aileen Whelan just before the hour.

As Liverpool tried to regain the ascendency midfielder Amanda da Costa forced Bardsley into a smart save at the near post.

And the England keeper did even better to brilliantly keep out a goalbound Dowie effort seven minutes from time.

Rolser and Dowie both went close to clinching victory for the Reds in extra time, but it was Lincoln who came up trumps in the shoot-out.

The Imps will face either Arsenal or Everton, who are set to meet in the second semi-final, in October's final.