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Lichfield Diamonds came from a goal behind at half time to beat Stoke City 2-1 after extra time in the Staffordshire County Cup Final and lift the trophy for the seventh time at Rocester.
On a cold evening, both teams served up an exciting Cup Final. Stoke had the better of the early stages but gradually Diamonds began to put their game together, forcing a number of corners. Karen Clough's deliveries were superb, Aimee Perry heading one goalwards only to see the ball cleared off the line and another drift narrowly wide. As Stoke cleared another, Catherine Bew fired it back bringing a good save from the keeper. It was big City rivals Stoke who shaded the first half overall and took the lead five minutes before the break when Chantelle Gallagher broke from midfield and beat Lichfield goalkeeper Steff Cole, who was outstanding throughout, with a low drive.
Diamonds upped the tempo in the second half, pressing Stoke back, Niccy Hazell catching the keeper off her line with a delicate chip but again the ball was cleared off the line. Hazell and Clough both went through on goal only to be thwarted by brave goalkeeping and as time gradually ticked by, central defender Hayley Sharrod brought the ball out of defence and picked out Hazell on the edge of the box to dribble past two defenders before slotting the ball home for the equaliser, with five mins remaining.
Diamonds now had that lift for extra time and looked the team most likely to score, Perry and Jo Hearne both going close from several Clough corners as Stoke held on. With just three minutes left, Perry sent Clough away and, from a tight angle, she lifted the ball over the keeper and into the net.
It was a terrific team performance of grit, determination and a never say die attitude that left Lichfield captain Louise Sharrod to step forward and lift the trophy and Diamonds to be crowned Staffordshire County Champions once again.
Lichfield Diamonds would like to thank their under-11 and under-12 girls who led the teams out on the night and all their support.
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