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Stevenage Ladies claimed the Cameo Kitchens Hertfordshire Women's County Cup on a chilly March afternoon in Letchworth after beating Hemel Hempstead Ladies in an evenly contested game.
In a very close first half, it was Hemel Hempstead who had the first sight of goal. Kayleigh Baker connecting sweetly with a drive from 30 yards out that had to be stopped by Stevenage keeper, Chrissy Roberts, in the 3rd minute.
Eight minutes later it was up to Hemel's keeper, Ruth Gorin, to keep out the opposition. Gorin twice collected bravely at the top of her box to deny livewire Stevenage striker, Nicole Perschky.
As the first half continued, Hemel began to find a rhythm against their higher ranked opponents - the Greater London's Women League team frustrating Stevenage with a well drilled offside trap and some tidy possession play. It took an incredible reflex save from Hemel keeper, Gorin, to deny Gemma Darvill from putting Stevenage ahead in the 26th minute from point blank range.
The Tudors responded well to Stevenage's pressure though, and could feel unfortunate to have not broken the deadlock in the last 15 minutes of the first half.
Nat McConville went close for Hemel first in the 32nd minute, using superb technique to sting Chrissy Roberts' fingertips from 25 yards out, before Suz Read rolled a side foot shot inches past the Stevenage post in the 40th minute.
However only seconds before the half time whistle blew it was Stevenage who created arguably the best chance of the half. Perschky danced past a player on the right before whipping an inswinging cross for Alex North, who saw her header clip the wrong side of the post.
After the restart, Stevenage came out with a rekindled passion and they were nearly rewarded seven minutes into the second half, when Perschky beat the offside trap to go clean through with just the keeper to beat. However, Gorin lived up to her billing as a one on one specialist, blocking the Stevenage striker's attempt well.
The Hemel keeper wasn't so lucky 3 minutes later, when a defensive mix up allowed Stevenage to open the scoring. Donna McGuigan was the benefactor as she slotted home in the 56th minute to give Boro the lead.
Going a goal behind didn't deter Hemel though, and in the 64th minute Chrissy Roberts denied the Tudors a certain equaliser, saving a deflected Steph Cripps effort magnificently.
Suz Read saw another one of her attempts go only a whisker wide of the post for Hemel as they continued to look for a way back into the game, whilst Stevenage started to look dangerous on the counter attack with sub Holly Jardine causing problems with her pace.
The Boro were rewarded for their play on the break in the 80th minute, when Donna McGuigan was brought down in the area for a Stevenage penalty. Josie North, the Stevenage Ladies player manager, then stepped up to the convert the spot kick low to Gorin's right.
North was on hand again in stoppage time to seal a famous victory for Stevenage, sweeping a low finish across her bosy into the far post after excellent play on the wing from Nicole Perschky.
Stevenage lift the Cameo Kitchens Women's Cup for the first time in their recent history, after the club was reformed in 2014, and Player/Manager Josie North was happy with her team's success, saying: "I'm absolutely ecstatic to get the win, and the effort level from all the girls today was incredible. It's great to see our revolution at Stevenage progressing after being appointed only two years ago.
"I thought we started off slow, but we spoke to the girls at half time about how we could improve, and you could see the difference it made in the second half."
Hemel Hempstead boss, Charlene Turturici, also offered her thoughts on the game saying: "It was a good game, and 3-0 is certainly a flattering score line for Stevenage. My girls were amazing today, and we're proud to make it against the odds to the final, although in the end we're obviously disappointed to lose."
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