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University College London 4 Ashford Town (Middx) 4
University College won 4-3 on penalties
University College London retained the Capital Women's Junior Cup via a penalty shootout after a thrilling contest with Ashford Town (Middx) which ended 4-4 after extra time.
The two teams put on an excellent showpiece at Wealdstone FC where Ashford held the lead on three occasions but were pegged back each time by a resilient UCL outfit. Player of the Match Ashley Cheatley notched all four of Ashford's goals but UCL had a hat-trick heroine of their own in Danika Bethune and both squads performed admirably throughout and played in a fine sporting spirit.
Ashford got off to the ideal start after four minutes when Cheatley converted a right wing cross with a crisp volley at the far post. Moving the ball well, Ashford controlled the game, skipper Vicky James going inches wide with a 20-yard free kick. UCL keeper. Pauline Borel-Charlet, who was excellent throughout, had to be quick off her line twice to save from dangerous through passes.
Bethune changed the match with two goals in as many minutes around the half hour, both calm finishes after outpacing the Ashford defence and taking the ball past keeper Lauren Restel. Back came Town and a deep cross from the left found Cheatley lurking at the far post for a good close range finish on 41 minutes. Lavana Neufville went close with another volley from a James corner but the teams remained level, 2-2 at the break.
Borel-Charlet made a brave save to deny Cheatley and was down injured for several minutes but was powerless to stop the same player slotting home from close range after good work by Charmaine Benham on 57 minutes.
Back came the students with Jess Wadey firing inches wide with a 20-yard free kick and both keepers making fine saves within a minute from the two scorers, who were both dangerous every time they received the ball.
Bethune, with another solo run and cool finish levelled matters on 72 minutes and, despite late Ashford pressure, the score remained at 3-3 after 90 minutes, Benham firing over from close range in added time.
Cheatley scored her fourth on 94 minutes, tucking a shot under the advancing UCL keeper but the students restored parity early in the second period of extra time, Kirsten Walker breaking the sequence of seven goals scored by the player wearing the number 16 shirt with a good finish on 108 minutes.
The penalty shootout was always in UCL's favour after Borel-Charlet saved the first spot kick and Ashford's second hit the post. UCL could afford a miss of their own before Sophie Britton converted the fifth and final penalty for a UCL victory in a match which neither side deserved to lose. Ashford Town (Middx) have had a brilliant title winning Greater London League Division Three North season but this time the prize just eluded them.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Tara Mathias tries to win the ball from Lavana Neufville
(middle) Christina Sofianos battles for possession with Ashley Cheatley
(bottom) University College London with the trophy
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