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Goals from Tayla Hudson, Charlotte Lynch, Katie Peers and Ashleigh Lewis-Shodeinde confirmed Eastern Avenue's transition from girls' to women's football as they overcame Walden to lift the Essex Women's Trophy.
A 4-1 success at Saffron Walden Town FC's Catons Lane ground completed a fine first season in the open-age game having been runners-up in the Essex Under 16s Girls Cup two years ago. Manager Peter Hudson saw his young side become county champions in the nick of time and he was revelling in his side's success immediately after the final whistle.
Peter explained his delight at the timing of the win: "We only have a small squad - we had the bare eleven today - and a few of the girls are off to university next year, so this is a great send off for them. Hopefully it'll also help attract new players next season as we look to progress."
"They [Walden] battled really well and we've adapted to the women's game as the season goes on. It's been a really good learning curve for us and I think that helped us today. We lost a few 50-50s in the midfield, but our finishing - although not top drawer - was good today."
Eastern Avenue earned themselves a perfect start when they took the lead inside 3 minutes. Hannah Warner's corner wasn't fully cleared and Hudson nodded home from close range. Walden goalkeeper Krissi Glover went on to make a string of fine saves before Avenue doubled their lead on 39 minutes with Lynch's 15-yard shot finding its way through a crowded penalty area and into the bottom corner.
Avenue had dominated the first period, but local side Walden took the game to their young opposition after the interval and two free kicks caused problems as Coleen Arnold's strike hit a post and Kayleigh Nolan forced 'keeper Caitlin Hynes into a smart stop. Though the pressure told a minute before the hour mark as Nolan's corner found its way in, possibly with the aid of an Avenue defender.
Nolan could've equalised when her run ended in Hynes making a save at the near post before Avenue restored their two-goal lead on 69 minutes, Warner coolly teeing-up Peers, who found the bottom corner with a fine finish.
Two further Walden chances saw Hynes make saves from Nolan and Anneka De'Ath, but Avenue sealed the win with six minutes remaining a another neat assist from Warner saw a centre swung to the far post where Lewis-Shodeinde thumped home a close-range header.
Eastern Avenue: Caitlin Hynes, Billie Davis, Georgia Owens, Daisy Davis, Charlotte Lynch, Hannah Warner, Molly Ross, Katie Peers, Tayla Hudson, Ashleigh Lewis-Shodeinde, Courtney Lowther. Substitutes (repeated): None.
Walden: Krissi Glover, Karli Millard, Vicky Smith, Shelly Haslem, Michelle Smith, Clair Andrews, Pavilina Beasley, Anneka De'Ath, Kayleigh Nolan, Coleen Arnold, Sam Tant. Substitutes (repeated): Jess Guest, Hayley Feltham, Laura Kettridge, Kate Ellis.
(report by Mark Wallis)
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