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Andover New Street 2 (Ham 75, Hull 89) Mansfield Road 1 (Bowden 44)
Two goals in the last fifteen minutes handed Andover New Street a surprise victory in the Southern Region League Cup Final against Premier Division opponents Mansfield Road.
Road had let through much of the game through captain Lucie Bowden's first half header but Andover's young side hit back to land their first knockout trophy success in the league after three previous League and Chairman's Cup Final defeats.
The opening stages of the match were evenly contested with the highlight being a superb run from Andover winger Laura Gilbank which took her past three defenders before being crowded out on the edge of the area.
It wasn't until midway through the first half that the first opening was created, Samantha Vokes whipping in a cross from the left for Claire Ham whose glancing header was saved by Jessica Casey.
Casey again needed to be alert and was quickly off her line to block a shot from Nikki Barnes after the striker had chased down a long ball forward.
Road had taken a little longer to settle down but began to look dangerous themselves with Jennifer Baker volleying narrowly off target after a corner had been half cleared. Back came Andover with a ball over the top from Lydia Moulding being latched onto by Charlotte Hull who was unlucky to see her first time half volley go just wide.
Mansfield Road began to press with Holly Bridge and Laura Allsop probing from midfield and strong running from Melissa Stickland up front. They won a series of corners and on each occasion, an excellent delivery from Amy Pipe was only just dealt with by the Andover defence.
The pressure told though and, on the stroke of half time, Road's fourth corner in a matter of minutes led to them taking the lead. Once again, Pipe whipped in a superb cross and Bowden was on hand to head home at the far post.
Andover started the second half brightly with Moulding having a well struck shot saved by Casey, but Mansfield Road once again began to take charge of possession and sought a second goal. It was no surprise that Bridge was heavily involved in creating their next chance, the midfielder receiving the ball in the area from a throw and crossing but the ball came at an awkward height for Pipe at the far post and she could only spoon her shot straight at Ella Howells.
Howells did well to get to a Pipe free kick which looked destined for the top corner, turning it over the bar, and from the resulting Pipe corner, Rachael Mariam fired just wide.
Mansfield Road had looked in control at this time but Andover rallied and brought themselves level with fifteen minutes left. Gilbank had been a constant threat on the left and her pass released Ham on the goal, the striker producing a confident finish past Casey for the equaliser.
Allsop had a shot saved by Howells at the other end but Andover had been rejuvenated by the goal and Ham went close to a second with a curling shot which was narrowly over.
A Howells clearance was flicked on by Moulding for Hull to burst through on goal but she was denied by an excellent save from Casey. The resulting corner was not properly cleared and Jenna Patterson drove the ball back into the area, Claire Selway tried to turn it goalwards but her effort was off target.
Mansfield Road also looked threatening going forward and another Pipe corner almost led to them going back in front, Bowden meeting the kick with a firm header but Lauren Pearce was well placed to clear off the line.
That moment became even more telling just two minutes later. Gilbank played the ball over the defence and Hull just managed to beat the oncoming Casey to the ball, steering her shot past the keeper to put her side ahead for the first time.
There was still more work to do at the back for Andover as Mansfield Road won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Bowden stepped up to drill her shot goalwards but Howells was equal to the task, palming the ball away. With Moulding having worked tirelessly throughout the game along with Vokes in midfield, and their back four staying strong, Andover managed to close out the game for a notable victory.
Andover New Street: Ella Howells, Lauren Pearce, Claire Vincent, Jenna Patterson, Lydia Moulding, Kellie Warren, Laura Gilbank, Claire Selway, Claire Ham, Nikki Barnes, Samantha Vokes. Subs: Charlotte Hull, Michaela Tobin, Sarah Bradshaw, Melissa Bray-Spicer, Nicola Millings.
Mansfield Road: Jessica Casey, Cecile Deer, Katharine Coyte, Anne Piochowietz, Jennifer Baker, Lucie Bowden, Holly Bridge, Laura Allsop, Amy Pipe, Melissa Stickland, Rachael Mariam. Subs: Maria Ogdango-Portela, Claire Allsop.
(top) Lucie Bowden heads Mansfield Road in front
(middle) Rachael Mariam sends in a cross under pressure from Laura Gilbank
(bottom) Andover New Street with the League Cup
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