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Watford made it seven triumphs in a row as they successfully retained the Hertfordshire County Cup this week by defeating Welwyn Garden City 3-2 after extra time in the Final at the County Ground, Letchworth.
After a goalless and tight first half, it was the holders who drew first blood, taking the lead on the hour mark with Jo Rutherford firing home after Heather McDonnell's clever through ball. Less than ten minutes later, the same player doubled the lead after battling her way into the box and past the goalkeeper before bundling the ball home for her 12th goal in the County Cup this season, after scoring a hat-trick in every round in the lead up to the Final.
Emma Beckett then blazed over in front of an open goal after Helen Lander's shot had been parried, and Rutherford then missed the chance of yet another hat-trick, just screwing wide from five yards after yet more good work on the wing from McDonnell.
With only five minutes left, indecision in the back four let in Welwyn to pull a goal back through Laveena Betts and barely a minute later, Naomi Lyon equalised in similar circumstances to send the game into extra time although there was still time in the 90 minutes for Lander to hit the post from a good position and for Ashlee Hincks to hit the bar from 25 yards.
Extra time was a cagey affair, with both teams starting to feel cramp and heavy legs but with the prospect of a penalty shootout looming, Watford found the breakthrough five minutes before the end of extra time. Hincks curled in a free kick from the right hand side and Beckett rose highest to send a looping header into the net over the goalkeeper's head.
Of the seven county cup triumphs, Welwyn had certainly ran Watford the closest and deserved many plaudits for making it a pulsating cup final, but ultimately Watford had done enough to keep the trophy for another year, and secure Steve Edwards his first silverware as Reserve Team Manager. Midfielder Danika O'Riordan was awarded player of the match.
After the game, Steve Edwards said: "We made hard work of it and at 2-0 up we really should have made the game safe but nerves set in and we had to pick ourselves back up for extra time. All credit to the girls for showing spirit in extra time to dig in for the victory after seeing their two goal lead slip away so quickly and so late in the game.
"Credit also must go to Welwyn Garden City who showed they were more than up for it and gave our girls a real game today but I think on the balance of chances created, we did enough to deserve to win and we're happy to be going away with the trophy for another year."
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