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Women's Football News
Sheffield FC 6 (Ward pen 11,34,73, Davies 44, Michalska 50, Giampalma 74)
Cardiff City Ladies 2 (Lloyd 40, Townsend pen 86)
at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
Sheffield FC rounded off a fantastic season by lifting their third trophy after an excellent display saw them lift the Premier League Cup for the first time.
Carla Ward led the scoring with a hat-trick as Sheffield proved too strong for a valiant Cardiff side who kept going until the end but had no answer for the Northern Division title winners' firepower up front and full back Ellie Gilliatt who had a brilliant match.
The first opportunity fell Sheffield's way as Kerry Parkin clipped the ball over the Cardiff defence and into the path of Jodie Michalska but the striker momentarily hesitated and this allowed Kayleigh Green to get in a vital saving tackle. The resulting corner was met by a header from Natasha Cooke but Sophie Dando was able to save.
Dando held a speculative effort from Michalska before Sheffield's enterprising start was rewarded in the eleventh minute. Gilliatt made a good run down the left which took her past two defenders and as Louise Hutton slid in to try and block the cross, the ball struck her arm and a penalty was awarded. Carla Ward stepped up and although Dando saved her initial kick, the rebound fell kindly for Ward to tuck the ball home for the opening goal.
Ward was close to a second when she fired over from the edge of the area but Cardiff went even closer two minutes later as Kelly Aldridge controlled and turned in the area before her powerful strike was turned onto the bar by Claire Wallhead. Both Naomi Clipston and Kelly Isaac had efforts to try and put in the rebound but the Sheffield defence stayed firm and both shots were charged down.
However just as Cardiff had settled down and were looking more dangerous, disaster struck for the South Wales side as they conceded a catastrophic goal. First, Dando tried to pass the ball out but Ward intercepted and although Nicola Cousins initially made a good challenge, she collided with Cori Williams and this allowed Ward the straight forward task of planting her shot past Dando for her second goal.
Six minutes later though it was Sheffield's turn to concede a needless goal. After passing the ball around in defence, Wallhead was dispossessed by Bethan Lloyd who rolled the ball into the empty net to bring her team back into the game.
Sheffield responded with Michalska sending a cross in from the left and Suzanne Davies laid the ball for Rebecca Lee whose shot was tipped over by Dando. Gilliatt swung in the resulting corner to the far post where Ward headed over.
As half time approached, Kirsty Richardson pumped a long ball into the area for Michalska who tried to bring the ball down, Kayleigh Green prevented her from getting in a shot but Davies was on hand to slot home from close range.
Aldridge fired in a good shot which was held by Wallhead but Sheffield took their two-goal lead going into half time.
Any hopes of Cardiff getting back into the game early in the second half were dashed as the impressive Gilliatt drilled a cross in the area for Michalska to steal in and power a header which Dando was unable to hold and keep out.
Michalska fired a left foot shot narrowly over after a free kick had been half cleared and Cooke looked to have scored as she rose highest from a Ward corner but Isaac was well placed to head off the line.
Substitute Issy Hayes forced a save from Dando with her very first touch of the ball after being picked out by a pinpoint centre from Giampalma but it wasn't too long before Sheffield were on the scoresheet once again. After initial good work once more from Gilliatt, Giampalma floated in another excellent cross and Ward gave Dando no chance with a downward header to complete her hat-trick.
Things got even worse for Cardiff a minute later as Kayleigh Green's attempted back pass only put Giampalma through on goal and the winger kept her cool to take the ball round Dando and slot home.
The game was over as a contest but Cardiff managed to pull themselves together and rallied. Clipston tested Wallhead with a long range shot and Lauren Townsend was unlucky not to pull a goal back when she exchanged passes with Clipston following a good run but curled her shot narrowly over the bar.
Cardiff's reward for not giving up came with three minutes left as they were awarded a penalty when Richardson was adjudged to have blocked Michelle Green's shot with her hands. Townsend calmly struck her kick into the corner of the net to give her side a well earned consolation.
Sheffield were worthy successors to the previous winners of the competition, nearly all of whom are now members of the WSL. Cardiff meanwhile still have much to play for and will look to pick themselves up from this defeat and keep up their challenge for the Southern Division title.
Sheffield FC: Claire Wallhead, Kirsty Richardson, Natasha Cooke, Rebecca Lee (sub Issy Hayes 67mins), Ellie Gilliatt (sub Aimee Johnson 79mins), Lisa Giampalma, Carla Ward, Kerry Parkin, Lynn Goodman, Suzanne Davies, Jodie Michalska (sub Leanne De Silva 72mins). Subs not used: Catherine Lawson, Olivia Foxton.
Cardiff City Ladies: Sophie Dando, Nicola Cousins, Lauren Townsend, Cori Williams (sub Zoe Atkins 62mins), Louise Hutton (sub Hannah Mills 70mins), Kayleigh Green, Kelly Aldridge, Michelle Green, Bethan Lloyd, Kelly Isaac (sub Hannah Daley 79mins), Naomi Clipston. Subs not used: Annie Pritchard, Steph Williams.
Photos by Julian Barker:
(top) Suzanne Davies scores Sheffield's third goal
(middle) Kayleigh Green slides in to tackle Lisa Giampalma
(bottom) Sheffield FC with the Premier League Cup
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