MATCH REPORT: Women's County Cup
Wolverhampton Wanderers claim the bragging rights in the Black Country Derby as they ran out 4-1 winners against West Bromwich Albion in the Women’s County Cup Final.
Team Line Ups
WBA Women: 1 Bastock, 2 Brown, 3 H. George ©, 4 Loydon, 12 Robinson, 14 Dugmore, 16 Embley, 17 Stamps, 18 Davies, 24 Green, 25 Mahmood. Subs: Walklett, Smith, Stubbs, Greaves, Tudor.
Wolves Women: 1 Turner, Cooper 2, 4 Price ©, 5 Cross, 6 Gauntlett, 7 T. George, 9 Cross, 11 Hughes, 15 Darby, 18 Morphet, 28 Merrick. Subs: Dicken, Miller, Walker, Butler, Elsmore.
Wolves entered the contest with sights set on double league and cup glory after already securing the Northern Premier Division title.
The side in old gold and black looked to cause issues from the off with Amber Hughes rounding West Brom keeper Poppy Bastock, firing into the open net only to be denied by a last-ditch block on the line by Ashlee Brown.
An early warning sign for the Baggies, they soon returned the favour with Mariam Mahmood leading a quick counter-attack. The Albion no.25 evaded the onrushing Wolves keeper Shannon Turner before laying the ball off to Leigh Dugmore who lofted the ball into the back of the net to give Jenny Sugarman’s side the lead inside five minutes.
A frantic start wasn’t going to fade just yet, however, with Wolves persistent in their hopes of finding an equaliser. Hughes once again was at the epicentre of the attack, cutting in from the left finding space to launch a curling effort into the top-right hand corner from just outside the area to level the scores once more.
Wolves looked to make the most of the momentum, with Hughes pouncing on a defensive mishap but her shot was gathered by Bastock. Wolves continued to dominate possession, with smart play from Marie Gauntlett to find Bethan Merrick with the no.28’s low drive gathered by the West Brom no.1.
With Albion struggling to get a foothold on the game, Wolves edged closer to finding their second of the evening. Skipper Anna Price was presented with a great chance from a corner with her header directed away from goal at the last moment with Ashlee Brown at the rescue once again.
Moments later, Marie Gauntlett made the pressure count with an excellent lobbed finish from the edge of the box to put her side in front.
West Brom were not going to go down without a fight though, with Mahmood winning a free-kick on the edge of the Wolves box. Turner was forced to tip Shannon Stamps’ effort over the bar to preserve her team’s lead going into the break.
The second half started in a similar manner to how the first half ended, with goalscorer Gauntlett going close for her second with a powerful effort on the half-turn fizzing narrowly over. Another smart run from Hughes soon followed, causing all sorts of issues for the Albion defence with the no.11 brought down inside the area with the referee swiftly pointing to the spot. Anna Morphet stepped up to the plate before smashing the ball in the top-right hand corner to give her side breathing room just five minutes into the second half.
Nevertheless, Wolves showed no signs of slowing down with some great work by Jade Cross to find Marie Gauntlett on the edge of the six-yard box but failed to get the ball under control before the danger was soon cleared.
West Brom reacted with a spell of their own - Hannah George’s cross to the back post picking out Mahmood before hooking her effort over the bar. Rosie Embley went close too, with her low strike evading those in gold shirts but Turner was equal to it.
In a game of great goals, it seemed that Tammi George wanted to join the party with a strike of her own. The no.7’s strike from distance nestled perfectly into the top corner for Wolves’ fourth of the game and ultimately making an Albion comeback all the more unlikely.
West Brom once again showed their fighting spirit with Hannah George’s deep free-kick leading to pandemonium inside the Wolves box with substitute Trina Greaves, Stamps and Mahmood all denied from close range.
The final 15 minutes proved to be as frantic as the opening exchanges of this match, with both Hughes and Cross going close with the crossbar denying the Wolves no.9 a goal of her own.
Mahmood continued the pursuit of a late Albion comeback with a marauding run, cutting in from the right to beat her opponent before firing narrowly over from a tight angle.
Wolves managed to preserve their three-goal advantage right until the end courtesy of a wonderful save by Turner who reacted sharply to deny Leigh Dugmore from just six yards to signal the end of an action-packed affair at the Banks's Stadium.
Player of the match was awarded to Wolves’ no.9 Jade Cross following her commanding performance amongst the relentless Wolves frontline, causing the West Brom defence problems from start to finish.
The two clubs had nominated their individual worthy of the Club Volunteer award which saw Rob Paddock and Jenny Wilkes pick the award up for West Bromwich Albion Women and Wolverhampton Wanderers Women respectively.
You can view the official photographs taken by Focus Dunn Sports Photography by clicking here.
Extended highlights of the Cup Final can be watched below: