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Spot-on Cambridge retain trophy
 Women's Football News 14 May 2012
 
Cambridge Women kept hold of the South East Combination League Cup when beating Enfield Town on penalties after the sides had battled out a goalless draw at Arlesey. 
 
Enfield started the game well and had the first chance as a Kelly Cooper kick was helped on to Emma Thomas who shot wide and then Claire Pavett headed a Cally Browne free kick to Cambridge keeper Verity Crook. Thomas got away down the right and crossed for Sara Sinclair but Crook blocked the shot. Laura Baker attacked down the Cambridge right and hit a cross the evaded everyone in the centre going out for a throw in. A Pavett corner was sent towards the goal by Kelly Herrett but was cleared to Thomas who sent a measured shot towards the top corner but Crook easily caught it. Laura Browne caused Cooper a moment of worry as she chased down a short back pass and put the keeper under pressure.

Sinclair made her way to the corner and pulled the ball back to Thomas who cut in a hit a cross/shot that Leanne Mabey just failed to get a touch to at the far post. Sophie Thompson pounced on a back pass to Cooper and Cooper was relieved to snatch the ball away from the forward. A Pavett cross was cut out at the expense of a corner as Mabey and Sinclair were well placed in the area. A deep cross by Thomas was retrieved by Sinclair who turned and saw her shot blocked by a defender. Thomas attacked down the left and slid a pass inside to Sinclair but a defender managed to stretch to concede a corner which Sinclair stooped to head over the bar unchallenged in the centre. A free kick was cleared to Cambridge's Natalie Richardson who shot high and wide.

In the opening minute of the second half Sheree Oliver swung in a corner that Sinclair headed towards goal and Crook caught it under pressure from Beth Lovell. Cambridge immediately switched the play to the other end and Cooper had to save from Thompson and then dive on the loose ball. Thompson almost profited from a Herrett slip but shot over as Cooper came out. Kelly Hughes broke up a Cambridge attack and sent Pavett on who then passed to Mabey and Mabey dragged the ball back to Sinclair who picked out Thomas, Thomas hit a shot over the opposition defence and was unlucky to see it clip the outside of the post with Crook a mere spectator.

Hannah Goodchild passed to Baker and received the ball back into her run before firing over Cooper and off the bar. Browne clipped a pass over a Cambridge player to Sinclair whose touch was too heavy allowing the ball to run to Crook. Laura Brown forced Cooper into a rushed clearance and the ball dropped to Baker who was too far out to take advantage of the vacant net. Sinclair won three challenges in quick succession to get away and bore down on goal but shot wide with only Crook in front of her. Crook took the ball off of Thomas' toe as Lovell slid a pass in to the area. Regan Coleman came on for Enfield and her first touch was a cross to the far post where Lovell beat Crook only for a defender to hook the ball off the line.

Oliver hit a long shot that Crook watched all the way safely into her hands and Sinclair then saw a shot blocked by Crook. Enfield looked to have won the game with a minute to go as Sinclair won the ball before putting in a pinpoint cross to Oliver who thundered a header back past Crook but it thumped off the post and away. Lovell was called into action in added time to block a shot from Cambridge sub Emma Jenkins.

Baker had the first opening of the extra time period but shot wide and then Lovell helped a Sinclair cross on but over the onrushing Coleman. Gooch clipped an Oliver corner on but a defender managed to scramble the ball away for another corner and from the corner Cambridge broke quickly with Enfield being thankful to Herrett who muscled Thompson out of her run as the ball went to Cooper.

Enfield had the majority of possession in the second period of added time but Cambridge had the best chances as Cooper misjudged a high ball into the area and was forced to slap the ball away from a Cambridge forward and then Coleman got a vital touch to deny a Cambridge player a touch at the far post with Cooper beaten. Three minutes into added time a cross by Thomas was headed onto a defender by Lovell and after the ball ricocheted around the six yard box it was eventually cleared.

And so to the penalty shootout. Cambridge went first and Jenkins shot over, Browne for Enfield, Laura Bright for Cambridge, Oliver for Enfield and Baker for Cambridge all scored. Thomas saw her kick well saved by Crook, Gemma Clare hit the post, Coleman hit a weak shot against Crook's legs and Cooper got a touch to Shannon Garner's effort to see it onto the bar and out. Enfield captain Claire Gooch stepped up with a chance to win the cup but put her effort over the bar. The two keepers took their turn as the shootout entered sudden death with Crook beating Cooper at the foot of the post and then standing up to save Cooper's penalty to start the celebrations.

(Report by Michael Bunyan)

 
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