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Forest Green Rovers maintained their grip on the GFA Women's Trophy after recovering from an early scare to repeat their Final victory of last season over a plucky Bristol Ladies Union side.
The newly crowned Premier League Southern Division Champions went into the game looking for their second trophy in three days but were jolted after six minutes when Union took the lead in their first attack. A mistake let in Natalia Debek on goal and after dummying Georgina Macey, who appeared to lose her footing, Debek calmly lifted the ball over her for the opening goal.
Forest Green pressed in search of a quick reply and a glorious chance came when a long throw from Sophie Okey caught out the Union defence and picked out Ellie Olds in front of goal but she missed the target with only Kathryn Howells to beat.
The Premier League side did get back on terms on the quarter hour mark, breaking away after defending a free kick. Kirsty Richardson slid a great pass into the path of Ella Hitchcox who took the ball into the area and squared it across for Annie Martin to find the corner of the net from ten yards.
Martin nearly scored a second but fired over after Charlotte King and Ellie Olds had combined to set up the chance but the pressure eventually told. Another long throw by Okey was inadvertently flicked on by a defender and Olds was on hand to head past Howells from point blank range.
Olds was again involved as Forest Green made it three, this time supplying an excellent through ball for Hitchcox who sped away from the Union defence to tuck the ball past the oncoming Howells.
Martin shot over from a quickly taken free kick and Polly Wardle was just off target with an effort at the other end, but Forest Green were to increase their lead ahead of the break when a rash tackle by Hannah Garratt-Kirk on Martin in the area resulted in a penalty. Richardson stepped up to slot her kick into the corner of the net.
Forest Green continued to attack after the break but found it harder to get through a determined Union defence, well led by player manager Sophie Morgan who put in a number of tackles.
However the speedy Hitchcox had been a constant threat throughout the match and she netted her second goal of the night, just before the hour. The winger cut in from the right and evaded a couple of challenges before steering a shot just inside the far post with her left foot.
Many of Union's best moments going forward had come from the skilful Debek and she brought out a save from Macey with a good strike from just outside the area. The South West Women's League side valiantly sought another goal and it almost came when Wardle picked out Jen Atherton in the area but the young midfielder was off balance when she shot and her effort went wide.
Hitchcox had a great chance to complete her hat-trick when put through on goal but this time she shot wide with only Howells to beat. Hannah Hale brought out a save from Howells with a strike from 25 yards but a bigger margin of victory would have been harsh on a Union side which had fought hard against a team which is heading for the top level of women's football in the winter game.
Forest Green Rovers: Georgina Macey, Abbie Sadler, Natalie Holbrook, Kirsty Richardson, Amy Baker, Jodie Shepherd, Ella Hitchcox, Ellie Olds, Charlotte King, Annie Martin, Sophie Okey. Subs: Naomi Marshall, Hannah Hale, Sarah Stacey.
Bristol Ladies Union: Kathryn Howells, Sophie Morgan, Hannah Garratt-Kirk, Alice Baker, Sarah Gregory, Natalia Debek, Cheryl Baber, Sam Rogers, Chelsea Heal, Katy-May O'Hara-Nash, Polly Wardle. Subs: Jen Atherton, Sarah Adams, Joey Miller.
(top) Natalia Debek takes on Abbie Sadler
(middle) Sophie Morgan slides in to tackle Ellie Olds
(bottom) Forest Green Rovers with the trophy
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