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Abbeymead Rovers lifted the Gloucestershire FA Cup with a 4-1 victory over Mangotsfield United at Oaklands Park.
The win was an especially sweet one for Judith Langworthy's side as they had been beaten at the same stage by Bristol Ladies Union Development a year ago.
The County League Division Two team were ahead from early in the match against their opponents, who play in the Wiltshire County League, but were ultimately made to work hard for their victory by a Mangotsfield team depleted by the absence of five squad members on an educational visit the with Bristol City Ladies Futsal squad and therefore down to just eleven players.
Abbeymead looked dangerous right from the first whistle with Stacey Leaver exploiting her pace to get behind the defence. An early run and shot was well dealt with by keeper Becky Storer but on 12 minutes, Leaver broke clear again and this time her low shot went under Storer's dive for the opener.
Rovers continued to dominate play and Chloe Taylor was very close to doubling the lead, Storer getting down to deflect her shot wide. The same player hit the post on 24 minutes with Leaver just unable to convert the rebound. The keeper excelled herself in the latter stages of the first period, again denying Taylor with an acrobatic stop before beating away a Mel McIlwraith drive from close range.
Meanwhile Mangotsfield had won several corners but their first serious threat came on 42 minutes when Ruby Smith broke clear down the left . Abbeymead keeper Ashleigh Scantlebury came outside her area to block her shot and was able to gather Daisy Merryfield's follow up effort as she retreated.
Abbeymead doubled their lead within two minutes of the restart. A free kick 30 yards from goal was perfectly hit by Rachel Lutman high into the top left corner giving Storer no chance. Taylor, who threatened the Mangotsfield defence throughout, was wide when clean through on 57 minutes as Abbeymead continued to press.
Mangotsfield showed real determination to fight their way back into the match. A Laura Curnock corner was headed over by Dana Philpot, then Scantlebury had to leap high to claw away an effort from the lively Smith on 64 minutes.
A free kick gave the Mangoes real hope, Curnock converting with a fine effort from 30 yards on 70 minutes to make the score 2-1. Merryfield went close to an equaliser shortly afterwards, being crowded out as she tried to round the keeper.
It was Leaver who calmed Abbeymead nerves with a peach of a finish on 85 minutes, driving home a bouncing ball from 20 yards. Kat Sutton went close to adding another before Taylor set up McIlwraith for the fourth deep into added time,
Mangotsfield United's eleven players fought very well with outstanding displays from keeper Storer, Smith, Curnock, Kyra Bishop and Emily Brown but Abbeymead were deserved winners for their variety of attacking options with Leaver, Taylor, Lutman and Sutton backed up by excellent work from McIlwraith and skipper Anni White in midfield.
Abbeymead Rovers: Ashleigh Scantlebury, Natalie Whitehouse, Sandra Saunders, Kelly Saunders, Tracey Squibb, Paige Ible, Mel McIlwraith, Stacey Leaver, Chloe Taylor, Rachel Lutman. Subs: Kat Sutton, Vicky Fyfe, Sophie Rawlins, Emily Hawley.
Mangotsfield Utd: Becky Storer, Ruby Smith, Emily Brown, Riley Wren, Emily Gibson, Laura Curnock, Kyra Bishop, Jodie Hood, Daisy Merryfield, Dana Philpot, Ellie Christophers.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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