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Enfield Town 2 Newcastle Utd 0
Enfield Town will face Coventry United in the FAWPL Plate Final after beating Newcastle United 2-0 at the Queen Elizabeth 2nd Stadium.
A superb team effort saw the South East Division One club into a first national final, their second victory over higher tier opposition in this competition after a fiercely contested match where United had their chances but were defeated by a goal in each half.
Enfield gave notice of their attacking threat early on, twice testing Newcastle keeper Allison Cowling with fiercely driven shots from Chloe Bassett and Alena Beganovic after clever runs beyond the defence. The visitors also showed their ability to also attack at pace, home keeper Bethan Davies saving from Molly Lambert and Jessica Clark.
Newcastle went very close to taking the lead on 20 minutes when, after an initial effort was blocked, Jade Anderson got in a powerful shot which Davies parried into the air before the ball was scrambled clear.
Kerrie Marlborough had a free kick effort over the bar for Enfield but the clearer chances fell to the visitors with Jess Round firing a shot just wide and Davies saving from Ellen Turnbull. As the break approached. however, it was Enfield who gained the upper hand. First Bassett went on a great run and fired in a low cross beyond Cowling but Jasmine McNaught defended well at the far post.
The opening goal came from a corner when, after a Bassett effort was cleared off the line by Alisha Smith, Beganovic was on hand to drive home the loose ball from close range on 39 minutes. Newcastle pressed hard for an equaliser before the break, a Chloe Johnson corner causing a scramble in the area before McNaught's shot flew narrowly wide, then Anderson struck a free kick just over the Enfield bar.
Enfield controlled the flow of the match very effectively on the restart to limit the threat of the speedy Newcastle attackers. In reply, they were always dangerous on the break. Cowling was forced into a fine save on the hour, flinging a hand out to divert a fierce Beganovic shot. The same player was denied by an offside flag after a super through ball and lobbed finish had appeared to double Enfield's lead.
Newcastle had a penalty claim turned down and Clark had a low effort tipped wide of goal by Davies at full stretch on 71 minutes. Cowling then made two more fine saves to keep Newcastle in the match, blocking a Vicky Lewis near post flick then saving from Enfield skipper Regan Coleman in a one on one situation on 82 minutes.
A fine individual effort from Bassett clinched Town's place in the final on 84 minutes. Running clear on the right, it appeared that the defenders had done well to force her to turn away from goal. However, spinning away again, the Enfield striker found a yard of space and drilled a shot low past Cowling.
Newcastle battled hard to get back into the tie, forcing several corners, but the Enfield defence, excellently marshalled by Marlborough and Claire Gooch-Ford, with young sub Eliza Diaz and Beth Demery also having very good matches, protected the lead very well through several minutes of added time to spark well earned celebrations from players and supporters and the joy of a first national final for a club with a proud history.
Enfield Town: Bethan Davies, Beth Demery, Claire Gooch-Ford, Kerrie Marlborough, Chloe Bassett, Nuala McKevitt, Ayse Mustafa, Regan Coleman, Holly Brandon, Vicky Lewis, Alena Beganovic. Subs: Eliza Diaz, Jordan Ferdinand, Sheryce Slater.
Newcastle Utd: Allison Cowling, Jasmine McNaught, Alisha Smith, Jasmine Trundley, Jess Round, Kate Brooks, Molly Lambert, Jade Anderson, Jessica Clark, Ellen Turnbull, Chloe Johnson. Subs: Lauren Robson, Danika Purdham, Hannah Chisholm.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Alena Beganovic is tackled by Kate Brooks
(middle) Vicky Lewis challenges Allison Cowling
(bottom) Ayse Mustafa in a tussle with Jess Round
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