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C & K Basildon secured their second BBC Essex Women's Cup Final triumph inside three seasons with a dominant display against Billericay Town at AFC Hornchurch's Bridge Avenue base.
Central defender Claire Lacey bagged a brace and Merrick Will, Sara Sinclair, skipper Carly Eagles, Zoe Rushen and Amy Nash all got on the scoresheet for C & K in a 7-1 victory over Billericay, for whom Hayley Piggott's first-half spot kick briefly afforded parity. Basildon boss John Hinz was delighted, admitting afterwards: "I'm happy. It was a little bit one sided, and I'm surprised by the scoreline.
"I thought it was a good performance from us, but Billericay played their part for a period of time. I'm happy for the girls and the club. Our centre-half scored two and the other centre-half probably should've scored another one; Zoe's scored with a free kick and a couple of the others were good moves. Little Merrick got the first one and that was her first goal for us, so it was a good all-round performance."
17-year-old Will, in her debut season with the club, netted in just the third minute of the match to give her side the lead after controlling an Eagles pass. She pressed forwards to 25 yards out and then drove the ball in off the left hand upright to give C & K the perfect start.
However, the FA Women's Premier League South East Division One pacesetters found themselves pegged back just five minutes later when goalkeeper Mel Kinsella raced off her goal line and was adjudged to have brought down Paris Smith. Piggott took responsibility for the penalty and dispatched it into the top right-hand corner to equalise.
A frenetic start continued as Basildon went ahead again within 60 seconds. Experienced forward Sinclair was the goalscorer, moving uninhibited to a position around 30 yards out and then guiding the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net to make it 2-1. She could've added a third on the quarter-hour mark, but Piggott made an excellent challenge to stop her converting Nash's pass.
Sinclair continued to influence the play as the first half progressed, and her cut back from the right bye line was met on the half volley by Will, who found herself thwarted by Billericay shot stopper Layla Prior. However, just after the half hour mark, Basildon did extend their advantage when Lacey rose highest to head home Nash's pinpoint corner kick.
Kinsella saved a well struck Smith effort above her head as the opening period neared its conclusion, but C & K remained largely in control and Will was denied again by Prior seven minutes before the interval, with the custodian also bravely advancing off her line to block at the feet of the onrushing Nash shortly afterwards.
Billericay required a strong start to the second half in order to get back into the game, but, instead, Basildon moved into a three-goal lead within a minute of the kick off. This time Will was the provider, squaring the ball to Eagles, who had the simple job of tapping into an empty net from close range.
It was a decisive move from C & K, who could've netted again when defender Hannah Porter looped a header over from Nash's right wing free kick. On 58 minutes, Basildon did make it 5-1 as substitute Chelsea Hinz was fouled on the left hand apex of the penalty area and Zoe Rushen sent a devilish free kick swinging inside the near post despite Prior's touch.
Nash should've scored on the hour, slicing wide when one-on-one with Prior, and Eagles thwacked the crossbar from Porter's flick on, but ex-Colchester United player Nash finally got on the scoresheet in the 65th minute when she galloped onto Will's through ball and poked her shot underneath Prior to extend the lead to five goals.
Lacey met an intelligent Rushen free kick, only for Vanessa Wilson to head the ball off the line, and sub Karissa Rodney lifted the ball against the crossbar as C & K found themselves camped in the Billericay half, and the final goal of the evening eventually arrived eleven minutes from the end as Lacey planted home a header from yet another Nash dead ball delivery to seal a 7-1 success.
"I saw a weakness in their back four, so we started to hit the ball in behind because our forward players have got a bit of pace," explained Hinz. "We capitalised on that and managed to score a couple of soft goals as well, so it was a decent performance from us.
"I hope this is the start of something special. Peter [King, Club Chairman] won it before, so this is the second time we've won it and we'll look to build on this for the rest of the season. We want to take this into the four or five games that we've got left and do the 'double', and then we'll go from there."
Billericay Town: Layla Prior, Jo Dunne, Marie Barker, Sarah Bovington, Vanessa Wilson (sub Lisa Robins 81mins), Katie Whitehead, Paris Smith (sub Emma Roberts 87mins), Fran Murphy (sub Holly Darling 45mins), Hayley Piggott, Sally Appleton, Steph Poleykett. Subs not used: Hollie Dimambro, Helen Alder.
C & K Basildon: Mel Kinsella, Amy Nash, Megan Lawler, Claire Lacey, Hannah Porter, Merrick Will, Nicola Carty, Karen Stephanou (sub Chelsea Hinz 45mins), Carly Eagles, Zoe Rushen, Sara Sinclair (sub Karissa Rodney 73mins). Subs not used: Carly Copplestone.
(Report by Robert Craven)
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