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Norwich City 4 C & K Basildon 3
The final match in the sixteen year history of the South East Combination was a fitting tribute as Norwich City lifted the League Cup after a thrilling 4-3 victory over C & K Basildon at Biggleswade Town FC.
Next season, teams will compete in the FAWPL Division One South and East and both clubs did themselves and their League proud with a fiercely fought and dramatic contest settled in the fourth minute of additional time by a goal from Paige Shorten to allow skipper and player of the match Grace Parker to hold the League Cup aloft.
C & K Basildon finished second by one point to Queen's Park Rangers in a stunning debut season at this level and they started this match with real menace through the wing play of Karissa Rodney and the pace of Sara Sinclair. Two good chances had already just eluded Sinclair before C & K took the lead in the 12th minute when a Rodney cross was met by a Zoe Rushen shot which floated just over the reach of Fiona Coombes into the net.
The Canaries were soon level when a loose back pass was intercepted by Natasha Snelling who measured a perfect lob over Mel Kinsalla on 14 minutes.
Zoe Rushen was getting forward for the Essex side and hit a powerful shot which clipped Sinclair and flew inches over. Norwich replied when Shorten played in Chelsea Garrett who shot just beyond the far post.
Sinclair restored Basildon's lead with a fine finish from fifteen yards on 34 minutes.but Norwich drew level with a swerving 25-yard free kick goal from Shorten, wide on the right on 41 minutes. Coombes made a brave save to keep the scores level but Garrett was seriously injured in the same action and was replaced after lengthy treatment.
Norwich took the lead a minute after the break when a fine reverse pass by Snelling released Ellie Smith who tucked the ball past Kinsalla. C & K were always dangerous from Jenny Brown-Wealls' excellent set piece delivery and it was from a right wing corner that Claire Lacey powered in the equaliser despite Anna Larkins almost clearing her header from the line on 54 minutes.
Brown-Wealls almost scored herself, grazing the bar with a free kick from the left. Rodney was denied by a fine Coombes save after powering her way into the area. Unfortunately, Chelsie Hurren had to be stretchered off after trying to tackle Rodney and Norwich were forced into another reshuffle.
After the lengthy stoppage, Norwich roared back into attacking mode and Snelling was twice inches away from converting crosses within a minute.The same player went close with a curling free kick on 75 minutes but C & K bossed the final stages of the match. Sinclair was very close with a header, Coombes doing well to challenge at full stretch whilst several other balls sailed across the City area with no final product.
As the match went into added time it was Norwich who found the winning formula. A long throw from Parker was half cleared but returned immediately by Emily Lewin into the danger area. Shorten beat both the offside flag and the last defender to lift the ball at full stretch wide of the advancing Kinsalla. Rodney was shown a red card for the nature of her protest over the validity of the winning goal and there was no time left for a C & K comeback.
Norwich City in one form or another have been long term members of the South East Combination and might well be considered fitting recipients of the League's final prize, especially considering the injury problems they encountered during the match. C & K Basildon have gone so close to a League and Cup double yet have no tangible reward for a fantastic first season at this level. This well supported club have many talented and exciting players who will surely be fighting for honours again in the new era.
Norwich City: Fiona Coombes, Grace Parker, Sasha Diston, Bryony Radley, Anna Larkins, Emily Lewin, Natalie Clark, Ellie Smith, Paige Shorten, Chelsea Garrett, Natasha Snelling. Subs: Nina Scammell, Chelsie Hurren, Ellen Fewkes-Woodrow, Vicki Stephens.
C & K Basildon: Mel Kinsalla, Claire Lacey, Hannah Porter, Megan Lawler, Amy Nash, Zoe Rushen, Carly Eagles, Jenny Brown-Wealls, Sara Sinclair, Steph Stephanou, Karissa Rodney. Subs: Charlotte Hopwood, Nicole Farmer, Nicola Carty Maegen Doyle, Rebecca Smith.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Grace Parker slides in to tackle Sara Sinclair
(middle) Paige Shorten scores the injury time winner past Mel Kinsalla
(bottom) Norwich City with the Cup
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