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Hampstead 5 Leyton Ladies 1
The F.A.Women's Cup started the long journey towards the Final with an early kick off at Hampstead Heath extension on Sunday morning.
Leyton Ladies scored the first goal in the competition but were hit by a five-goal salvo by Hampstead in the second half to send the hosts through. Both teams compete in the Greater London League Division One North but Hampstead have made a far better start to the season. League table logic was respected, but it took until late in the second half before Hampstead gained a decisive lead.
Leyton created the first good chance, Lizzie Tucker drawing a good save from Laura Mifsud, then turning the rebound just wide on four minutes. The teams traded chances as the half developed, Becky Barnes with a header and Kate Freeman with a volley going close for Hampstead whilst Val Toro had a great chance when clean through.
Mifsud had to save well from long range efforts from Sarah Garlick but the Hampstead keeper could do nothing on 41 minutes when a Garlick corner was met by a fine header by Lizzie Tucker for a half time lead for the East London team.
Playing with the slope and the worsening wind and rain in their favour, Hampstead must have been confident of turning the tide but it took a while. Morag Carvalho put a good effort wide for Leyton before the hosts equalised on 56 minutes when Toro outpaced the defence and finished from close in. The lively winger nearly scored again rounding Natasha Lavery but being foiled by a last ditch block.
Driven on by inspirational skipper Ellie Bard, the hosts attacked with increasing urgency but were foiled until Meroulla Lazarou came on and gave Hampstead the lead from close in with about ten minutes left. Further strikes from Barnes, from a Toro pass, and two in injury time from Toro and Lazarou gave the result a very flattering look.
Leyton were not four goals worse and had competed well, but Hampstead used the pace of their forwards to great effect to create many chances and eventually the pressure paid off. Their reward is an away tie against high flying Denham United, top of the London & South East League.
Hampstead: Laura Mifsud, Ellie Bard, Milly Jones, Paige Almbaugh, Deeple Patel, Mo Gray, Katie Freeman, Char Blackmore, Emma Wragg, Becky Barnes, Val Toro. Subs: Lins Roberts, Rhi Gladman, Meroulla Lazarou, Raquel Lewis.
Leyton: Natasha Lavery, Alba Dalmonego, Sarah Garlick, Janice Healy, Ashley Reeder, Morag Carvalho, Jill Strunk, Nadia O'Garro, Kirsty Graham, Lizzie Tucker, Kylie Worster. Subs: Linda Veryard, Ka-Mei Chung, Dani Picton, Louie Harman, Hannalot van Bruggen, Alina Chauhan, Kimoy Hill.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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