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The inaugural FA Women's Premier League Charity Trophy match was held at Stratford Town FC and the impressive silverware was lifted by Sheffield FC, but the majority of the crowd, who had come from far and wide for this superb initiative, gave their support for the ex England Allstars, comprising many of the 1995 World Cup squad and many other internationals of that era.
Most importantly, Breast Cancer Care, the chosen charity of the FAWPL, benefitted from the generosity of all concerned, including world famous referee Howard Webb who helped oversee the match where a dozen goals kept the crowd well entertained.
The Allstars frequently rolled back the years to show off the skills which had taken many of them to a World Cup quarter final twenty years ago but facing them were the FAWPL Northern Division winners who had experienced the best day in their history just over two months ago on the same ground in winning the play off for a FAWSL place.
The Champions fielded a full strength team, widely recognised as the outstanding outfit in the FAWPL in recent seasons, and gave the occasion full respect by playing with good pace and commitment.
Allstars keeper Pauline Cope-Boanas was busy early on, making a fine second minute save from Emma Johnson before well worked team moves gave Ellie Gilliatt and Jodie Michalska the chance to finish.
The Allstars struck back with an effort deflected off the bar before Karen Walker rose high for a classic far post header from Marieanne Spacey's corner, skipper Debbie Bampton following up as the ball bounced down off the underside of Claire Wallhead's bar.
Sian Williams had an effort just over and player of the match Justine Lorton-Radburn had a header from distance and a shot well saved by Wallhead before Gilliatt and Michalska added further goals before the break. the former notching an opportunist effort from 30 yards.
A moment of controversy almost appeared to happen when referee Webb brandished a yellow then a red card in the direction of Allstars keeper Cope-Boanas. possibly for very politely questioning a free kick decision. The smile on the official's face suggested that. in fact, all was well.
Gilliatt completed her hat-trick just after the restart but the Allstars always threatened, forcing last ditch defence at times. Spacey hit the underside of the bar from a free kick wide left before Lisa Giampalma notched the seventh for Sheffield. Michalska completed her treble and Johnson added another with a fine finish.
Back came the Allstars and raised the loudest cheer of the day when Tara Proctor crashed home a loose ball after another corner delivery had caused havoc in the Sheffield defence.
Allstars' second half keeper Layla Young made a fine save to keep out yet another Gilliatt thunderbolt but the rampaging wing back was not to be denied, notching her fourth late on.
The final score...was irrelevant. The spirit of football was the winner on the day. Gate receipts, programme sales and a popular raffle as well as donations ensured that FAWPL's already thriving 'Quiddie' charity fund raising initiative will surely receive a considerable boost.
Ex-England Allstars: Pauline Cope-Boanas, Danielle Murphy, Alex Cottier, Clare Taylor, Marieanne Spacey, Debbie Bampton, Karen Walker, Kerry Davis, Brenda Sempare, Julie Fletcher, Sian Williams. Subs: Rachel Stowell, Jo Broadhurst, Layla Young, Justine Lorton-Radburn, Tara Proctor, Mel Garside, Vicky Exley.
Sheffield FC: Claire Wallhead, Chloe Dixon, Carina Fuller, Billie Murphy, Ellie Gilliatt, Lisa Giampalma, Carla Ward, Kerry Parkin, Lynn Goodman, Jodie Michalska, Emma Johnson. Subs: Sheldon Ashton, Nicole Kemp, Nikki Hogg, Suzanne Davies, Amy Beanland, Abbie McIver.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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