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Enfield Town 3 Norwich City 2
Enfield Town moved into the Second Round of the FA Women's Cup by beating visitors Norwich City 3-2 after a pulsating encounter packed with incident, outstanding goals and attacking intent from both teams.
The Canaries hit the woodwork three times, including from a penalty kick and were denied three further times by outstanding defensive blocks. Town created a number of good chances themselves as both teams attacked at will in the second half, but it was the hosts who were more efficient in front of goal.
Norwich started the better and rattled Kelly Cooper's left post on minutes when Vicki Stephens set up Natasha Snelling for a shot but it was Enfield who scored with their first attack on nine minutes. A Lizzie Kent corner from the right found Nula McKevitt for a powerful header.
City had a great chance to level when Stephens was adjudged to have been fouled in the area, but Kate Parsons' 12th minute spot kick hit the upright and rebounded across the goal and was cleared.
The game settled into an even contest and Norwich's Sasha Diston powered out of defence to allow Ellie Smith to set up Snelling on 27 minutes but the shot was wide. Canaries keeper Fiona Coombes made a fine save in a one on one situation from Vicky Lewis to keep the lead to one goal at the break.
The second half was a frantic affair with Norwich dominating the early exchanges. Smith was denied by an excellent last ditch Claire Gooch tackle but soon equalised from a similar chance on 52 minutes.
The visitors nearly went ahead when Paige Shorten set up Snelling but Kerrie Marlborough saved a certain goal by blocking the shot.
The match swung Enfield's way around the hour mark. Coombes made an attempt to deny Lewis when clean through, much as she had done in the first half, but brought the forward down as she went round her. The keeper was only given a caution but the resulting free kick was superbly dispatched into the bottom left corner by Kerrie Marlborough.
Within three minutes, Sheree Oliver had extended the lead with a brilliant solo effort, cutting in from the left before curling in an unstoppable effort beyond Coombes on 68 minutes.
A triple substitution gave Norwich renewed attacking options and they poured forward. but were also vulnerable to the counter attack. Coombes saved well from Lewis who also hit the outside of the post but it was at the other end that the real drama occured. Shorten thumped a shot off the upright on 83 minutes, then Parsons reduced the arrears with a 'goal of the season' contender. Cooper drop kicked a clearance into the centre circle where the Canaries skipper cushioned a perfect volley back past the retreating Enfield keeper's dive and into the net.
Substitute Atlanta Griffiths almost took the tie into extra time as she beat Cooper with a curling 15 yarder but Oliver was covering to clear the goalbound effort Lewis continued her personal battle with Coombes, hitting the side netting after being forced wide by the Canaries keeper's speed off her line but the match ended with the North Londoners retaining their narrow advantage over their South East Combination rivals.
The pair will meet again in a League Cup semi final which promises to be another cracker of a contest between two evenly matched and talented outfits. For now it is Town who await the second round draw and the possibility of WPL opposition.
Enfield Town: Kelly Cooper, Tara Hutcherson, Kerrie Marlborough, Cally Brown, Claire Gooch, Nula McKevitt, Vicky Lewis, Lizzie Kent, Amy Gullefer, Holly Palmer, Sheree Oliver. Subs: Regan Coleman, Sian Horrigan, Louise Bennett.
Norwich City: Fiona Coombes, Grace Parker, Chelsie Hurren, Nat Clark, Kate Parsons, Sasha Diston, Ellie Smith, Emily Lewin, Vicki Stephens, Natasha Snelling, Paige Shorten. Subs: Atlanta Griffith, Amber Cantwell, Emily Woodhouse.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Emily Lewin clears away from Lizzie Kent
(middle) Claire Gooch slides in to tackle Ellie Smith
(bottom) Regan Coleman challenges Kate Parsons
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