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Victoire Ladies were the winners of the Russell Cup, the second trophy up for grabs in the GLWFL Finals day.
The Division Two South champions defeated their closest rivals in the league campaign, Crystal Palace Development Reserves via a single Josie Elliott goal. Victoire had won the Sue Sharples Memorial Trophy last season and therefore completed a remarkable pair of GLWFL Cup honours as well as the League and Cup double this campaign.
In a fascinating and tense contest, the very young Palace team gave a fine display which pushed Victoire to their limits. Palace had the better of the league matches between the clubs, so the champions needed to play well to claim the Russell Cup. Elliott provided the perfect start on five minutes, just beating Palace keeper Rose Hemens to a low cross. Hemens was injured in the collision but carried on, whereas Elliott was unable to continue on 16 minutes after Hemens had intercepted a through ball and the pair had again collided.
Defences dominated the rest of the half and clear cut chances were few till the final quarter. Player of the match Alexis Hobbs was very strong in midfield for Palace whilst both back fours were rock solid and gave the opposition very little to work with. It was clear that Victoire needed a second goal to be comfortable and Elliott's replacement, Jeanie Keable nearly provided it. A powerful strike on the run was headed for the top corner before Hemens turned it away with a super acrobatic reaction save.
Palace started to pour on the pressure in the final twenty minutes. Morgan Parnell got in a great cross which Olivia Woolacott was just unable to convert on the far post on 70 minutes. Substitute Stacey Merrick got in on goal but was denied by a good blocking save from Victoire keeper Danielle Leacock on 79 minutes . From the resulting corner. Palace had three shots blocked by last ditch tackles as Victoire clung onto their lead with grim determination.
As the match approached full time, Victoire managed to release the pressure with some possession, Sian Fitzpatrick doing good work on the left side. Lucy Galea had a volley well held by Hemens but it was Palace who had the final effort to take the match into extra time. Dee Olympio had a sight of goal on the left edge of the area but. from a tight angle. her cross shot flew wide of Leacock's goal.
Victoire had claimed the narrowest of victories in a very well contested match of youth versus experience. Just as in the opening match, the winners were presented with both League and Cup winners medals after a 'double' season.
Victoire Ladies: Danielle Leacock, Emily O'Neill, Amy Ridgely, Alice Wilcox, Sian Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Tappenden, Lucy Galea, Daniella De Souza, Josie Elliott, Louise Feeney, Samantha McDowell. Subs: Jeanie Keable, Ifeoma Chileze, Emma Spencer, Nikki D'Aranjo.
Crystal Palace Development Res: Rose Hemens, Morgan Parnell, Niamh Manning, Hannah Rutherford, Linda Mehmeti, Alexis Hobbs, Olivia Woolacott, Emma Squirrell, Lucia Plado, Leah Sutton, Dee Olympio. Subs: Jodie Gaywood, Stacey Merrick, Amanda Hollidge.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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