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Middlesex 3 Kent 2
Middlesex won the Southern Counties Cup by defeating Kent in a thrilling match at Uxbridge FC.
The competition this season involved only these two County FA teams and the Army FA representative squad. Earlier matches had seen Middlesex defeat the Army by a single goal whilst Kent had lost by two goals to one at the Military Stadium two weeks ago.
Therefore the task for Kent was to win by two clear goals in order to reverse the goal difference deficit. Despite conceding an early goal, Kent stormed back to take the lead by half time and were close to achieving their aim. However, two late strikes in as many minutes turned the match and the destiny of the title back in favour of the hosts.
Kent dominated proceedings early on but were hit by a Katie Wilding headed goal for Middlesex from a right wing cross. Both sides had chances before Kent equalised on 36 minutes with a super 25-yard Sophie Brown free kick into the top left corner.
Courtney Shanley in the Kent goal made a fine save to tip over a powerful driven shot from distance but most of the action was at the other end. Two clearances off the line and a couple of good saves kept Middlesex level till just before half time when Kent went ahead, courtesy of Alex Witham's strike.
Kent again started well and but pressure on the home defence, seeking the third goal which would put them in pole position to take the title. Middlesex gradually forced their way back into the match as the half progressed, creating several good chances to level, two powerful cross shots fizzing narrowly wide of Shanley's goal.
With three minutes left, all three contestants in the competition were still level on points and with the same goal difference of zero.
It was Renata Inniss who found the all-important equaliser with a turn inside the defender and low cross shot from 15 yards on 87 minutes. Middlesex' joy was complete when Natasha Cree forced home the winner from close range in the very next attack and the hosts saw out the final few minutes comfortably in the knowledge that their two victories had earned Middlesex, captained by Denham United's Jo Torr, the title for this season.
Over the years. as many as eight different County FA teams and two services FA teams have competed in this competition. Pressure of club commitment and the advent of the WSL have led to reduced participation in the Southern Counties Cup but this match was a reminder of the best traditions of the competition.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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