The 2021/22 Girls County Cup Final played out a thrilling encounter in overcast, chilly conditions at Ray Hall Lane with two teams both hoping to win the trophy.
Team Line Ups
Warwick Juniors: Lucy Bicknell, Elektra Luo, Elena Zaffignani, Chloe Price-Forbs, Sophie Howard, Esme Chambers, Milly Cole, Frankie Benjamin, Sienna Viteri, Ella Ashley, Leila Scott, Rachel Matthews, Eliza Astbury, Eve Chaundy
Wordsley Panthers: Elley-Mae Cotton, Elizabeth Steathem, Sian Doleman, Athena Simpson, Lottie Turner, Ellie Riley, Olivia Troope, Molly Cooke, Milli Shepherd, Aleesha Cooper, Joella Bate, Faith Hollis, Chloe Gryckiewicz, Lew Gryckiewicz, Freya Masson
Early in the game, Wordsley tried to stamp their mark quickly with two efforts in quick concession in the first 5 minutes of the game with both Milli Shepherd and Molly Cooke having shots going wide of the post.
Warwick took their time and had their first effort on goal in the 14th minute after a storming run down the left wing by Leila Scott before her shot was saved by Elizabeth Steathem down to the right. Shortly after, Milly Cole struck the post for Warwick as they came agonisingly close to opening the scoring.
The game was end to end for the next 15 minutes but neither team caused much to shout about, until the 32nd minute when Wordsley had a couple of great chances to take the lead with Cooke going close and the rebound by Lottie Turner saved by Lucy Bicknell.
With numerous substitutes taking place before the half-time mark, the game became very stop-start which resulted in no further chances for either side, so the first half came to an end with the score 0-0.
The second half got underway with Warwick who sent the ball forward straight away, but after a few seconds, it was back in their own half with Athena Simpson breaking forward down the right-hand side. The ball was crossed in and Bicknell thought she’d got her hands on it, but it dropped kindly for Joella Bate to knock the ball in from a couple of yards out. Wordsley took the lead and got off to the best possible start in the second half.
There was a quiet period after this with Warwick pushing for an equaliser, and Wordsley unsure whether to go for another, or sit back and hold onto their slender lead. There was a couple of substitutions again, before the next chance which fell to Wordsley after another piece of good work down the right by Simpson with the ball ending up at the feet of Cooke, but her shot flew over the bar.
However, it only took 4 minutes for the ball to end up in the back of the net again and it was Wordsley who extended their lead. Simpson was running riot down the right wing and again got the better of the Warwick defence before calmly sliding the ball across the box, evading Bicknell, to find Ellie Riley who slotted the ball into an empty net.
Just a short 3 minutes later, Warwick got their deserved goal and were back in the game. Following a throw in, the ball was knocked back to Scott who unleashed a terrific left-footed strike into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box. This sparked Warwick into a new lease of life, and it was they who had the better of the chances that followed.
Coming shortly after their goal, Cole had a great chance to equalise but her effort from range flew just inches over the bar. The resulting goal kick by Steathem fell kindly for Scott who went on a mazy run down the right-hand side but Steathem was equal to the shot and pushed it out for a corner. The resulting corner was scrambled away as far as Scott on the edge of the box who had a go, but it was wild and went comfortably over the bar.
Wordsley then had their next chance, coming again from Simpson breaking forward before she played a great through ball to Cooke, but just before she can get on the end of it, Bicknell is out quickly to smother the ball.
The last 10 minutes of the game were played tentatively with Warwick pushing for the all important equaliser and they came ever so close in the final minute from a corner, but Frankie Benjamin’s headed effort fell just inches the wrong side of the near post. Minutes later, the referee Julia Kings blew the whistle for full time and Wordsley Panthers were able to celebrate their first victory in the Girls County Cup.
The player of the match award was picked up by Warwick Juniors’ Leila Scott after a fantastic performance driving them forward and scoring a great goal.
Both clubs had put their nominated Club Volunteer forward and it was Mike Powell and John Doleman who picked up the award for Warwick Juniors and Wordsley Panthers respectively.
Photographs taken by Focus Dunn Sports Photography.
Extended highlights of the Cup Final can be watched below: