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Women's Football News
Watford lifted the National FA Fives trophy at Wembley Stadium on Saturday after triumphing in the Finals Tournament.
After overcoming the County competition in February and the Regional competition in June, the wait was finally over as the Hornets took their place at England's national stadium.
After a brief tour and "Wembley experience" in the morning it was down to business in the afternoon as the tournament got underway. The Golden Girls opening group game was against Bushey, a side boasting three London Bees players and a goalkeeper in Chelsea's and ex-Golden Girl Marie Hourihan. A goal from Sarah Wiltshire was cancelled out by Bushey later in the game as it finished 1-1.
The second group game was against A-Town Ladies, who won the Midlands Regional Tournament to qualify. A slow start from Watford saw their opponents race into a 3-0 lead, but Kate Natkiel and Wiltshire both got on the scoresheet to reduce the deficit, though it wasn't enough to prevent the Midlanders from taking three points.
Needing a win with strong goal difference from their final group game, Watford picked up a 5-2 victory over London-based The Mix - the goals coming from Natkiel (2), Wiltshire, Jo Wilson and Renee Hector. It was enough to secure a semi final place against the winners of the other womens group in the competition.
The opponents were Itchen Athletic, a dedicated Futsal Team who were defeated by the Golden Girls in the Regional Final, but they were enjoying a good day so far. But Watford had saved their best performance for when it really mattered, handing out a 5-1 thrashing thanks to a hat-trick from Wiltshire and further goals from Natkiel and Wilson.
Therefore Watford found themselves in the National Final, cheered on by vociferous support from the stands! Their final opponents were Bushey again who had successfully negotiated their way through their semi final.
As expected against strong opposition, it was a hard-fought match as both teams battled for the trophy. Wiltshire grabbed the only goal of the final as she fired home left footed, but credit must go to goalkeeper Hollie Augustus who made a crucial save with the scores still tied. Cally Rowell was also unlucky to strike the post later in the game to make for a less nervy finish to the match. But Watford stayed strong and the final whistle went to see them crowned as national champions! Sarah Wiltshire also scooped the Player Of The Tournament award thanks to her seven goals to make it a double success.
Watford Ladies FA Fives manager, Steve Edwards, picking up his second FA Fives Wembley trophy with Watford, was full of praise for the players. "We didn't get off to the best of starts and we were a bit complacent in the 2nd game and slow to get going," he said. "We spoke as a group before the third game and realised we were one game away from going home and agreed that we could work a lot harder as a team.
"The players' reaction from then on was fantastic and the last three matches were as good as it gets. All the squad played their part today and they deserve this success. No-one will ever be able to take the fact that they are Wembley champions away from them. It's a great day for the club."
The winning Watford squad was:- Hollie Augustus, Renee Hector, Georgia Mays, Amy Runciman, Cally Rowell, Kate Natkiel, Sarah Wiltshire, Jo Wilson.
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