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(Academicals won 4-3 on penalties)>
London Academicals 2 AFC Stoke Newington 2
(Academicals won 4-3 on penalties)
The opening match of the Greater London Women's League Finals day at Hampton & Richmond Borough's Beveree Stadium saw London Academicals, runners-up in Division Three South, edging out Division Three North champions AFC Stoke Newington after a penalty shootout to lift the Sue Sharples Memorial Trophy.
Accies, in their first season, created primarily as a club for graduates of various universities in the capital to continue playing, were twice behind to very competitive AFC Stoke team. In fact, they started the better, forcing three fine saves from Stoke keeper Alice Nutman in the opening two minutes, from efforts by skipper Diede Fennema and player of the match Ellie Lock on two occasions.
AFC Stoke took the lead on 14 minutes when Ruby Marlow ran clear to finish past Ffion Roberts. Nutman did well to turn away a shot by Shannon Chell but AFC Stoke nearly doubled their lead when, from a corner, Aneequa Presspod had a shot cleared off the line by Abi Cartwright.
The equaliser came just after the half hour. Lock, 25 yards from goal, placed a powerful lofted shot beyond Nutman. Tara Mathias, who had a fine first half, then provided another perfect right wing cross for Lock to fire a shot which clipped the top of the bar.
Stoke Newington started the second half well, pinning Accies back in their own half. However, Fennema was always a threat on the counter, having one effort cleared off the line and forcing another good save from Nutman. Stoke Newington retook the lead on 78 minutes when defensive hesitation let in Marlow for her second and it seemed the trophy was headed north.
Accies had other ideas, pressed forward and when Fennema had a shot pushed away on 83 minutes, Lock was on hand to force the ball home. Despite the best efforts of both teams, the scores remained level at the final whistle and penalties would settle the destination of the trophy.
Nutman saved the first Academicals spot kick, but Roberts topped this by stopping the third and crucially the fifth AFC Stoke effort for a London Academicals win.
The match was played in an exemplary spirit throughout and both teams did the league and themselves proud. AFC Stoke Newington had the consolation of receiving their league winners medals but London Academicals celebrated winning the prestigious Sue Sharples trophy.
Ffion Roberts, Clara Ross-Benham, Emily Sprake, Becky Gray, Abi Cartwight, Rebecca Fickling, Elliie Lock, Tara Mathias, Fareeha Khan, Diede Fennema, Shannon Chell. Subs: Fiona Figueroa, Hannah Sargeant, Iona O'Brien, Judi McCulloch, Laura Avila Egido.
AFC Stoke Newington:
Alice Nutman, Rose Sharples, Chelsie Osborne, Annie Quartey, Eve Orange, Katee Hui, Aneequa Presspod, Ciara Monahan, Chloe Kraemer, Ruby Marlow, Stedika Perkins. Subs: Violet Williams, Shelly Dawson, Oluwakemi Fagbohun.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Oluwakemi Fagbohun tries to hold off Clara Ross-Benham
(middle) Eve Orange slides in to challenge Diede Fennema
(bottom) London Academicals with the trophy
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