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Queen's Park Rangers Development 3 AFC Phoenix 2
The last match of the GLWFL Finals day saw the top two from the Premier Division battle for the John Greenacre Memorial Trophy.
AFC Phoenix had edged the league battle whilst QPR Development came into the match as Trophy holders. As expected, this was a high quality contest settled in the 90th minute in favour of QPR with an Emily Hill goal for a 3-2 win.
QPR troubled the Phoenix defence all afternoon with crosses and set pieces and it was an early corner which gave them the lead, Nancy Gilmartin's flick carrying just over the line before being cleared. The lead was doubled on 16 minutes when a free kick was helped back into the goalmouth and Kristal Clarke rose highest to head the ball home.
Phoenix's response was quick and worthy of Champions. Player of the match Elizabeth Wicks took the ball through the heart of the QPR defence before shooting. Keeper Harriet Whitaker did well to parry the low strike but Saskia Philp was on hand to turn in the loose ball.
Phoenix levelled just after the half hour. Brittany Saylor released Christy Haragan down the left and her cross went met on the volley by Philp 15 yards from goal, the ball flying high beyond Whitaker for a superb goal.
QPR nearly retook the lead before the break, Erin Pope guiding a header just wide from a right wing corner but the match remained evenly poised. Phoenix went agonisingly close to going in front on two occasions early in the second half. Both chances fell to Saylor arriving in the box from midfield, the first a header inches wide, the second a snap volley which grazed the upright with Whitaker beaten.
However, QPR were always dangerous themselves, sending several crosses through the Phoenix area with no one able to apply the finishing touch. Haragan had a great chance to win the tie for Phoenix when Saylor's persistence saw her free in front of goal, but an awkward bounce saw the shot fly high over the bar. Just when it seemed that a penalty shootout would be necessary to divide two excellent teams, Hill found the solution, shooting low past Phoenix keeper Marie Louis when sent clear on the right side to spark lengthy celebrations.
As always, GLWFL Finals day was showcase of all the best that grassroots football in the capital has to offer. Superbly organised with an excellent venue and very informative programme, the day represented the rich cultural diversity of the teams and the huge commitment of players, coaching staff and league organisers.
Harriet Whitaker, Emily Hill, Nancy Gilmartin, Ailish Straver, Erin Pope, Paige Laider, Chloe Sampson, Sophia Amanor, Kristal Clarke, Melanie Hall, Rebecca Fisher. Subs: Natasha Hammond, Georgia Allen, Beth Smith, Gillian Kasirye, Jessica Painter.
Marie Louis, Catherine Ennis, Gabriella Romero, Michealla Williams, Zoe Bergeal, Elizabeth Wicks, Christy Haragan, Zoe Elmore, Saskia Philp, Brittany Saylor, Lucy Monkman. Subs: Katharine Mamy, Courtney Gallagher, Olivia Bennett, Elizabeth Kerins, Elizabeth Donnelly.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Melanie Hall hurdles a challenge from Michaela Williams
(middle) Elizabeth Donnelly tries to get past Nancy Gilmartin
(bottom) Celebration time for QPR Development
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