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Southampton FC Women secured a trophy in the first year of their existence by lifting the Hampshire County Women's League Invitation Cup with a 2-0 win over Gosport Borough in the second match of HCWL finals day.
The club, linked to the Tier 1 Regional Talent Club supported by the men's Premier League Southampton FC, scored early and late to defeat Gosport after a high quality, well contested match.
A third minute corner led to the first of a string of fine saves by Gosport keeper Roxy Roberts. parrying a point blank header, but England under-16 international Chloe Newton was on hand to turn home the rebound.
Gemma Hillier was very unlucky not to level as her low shot hit the inside of the far post with Kayla Rendell beaten and rebounded across the goal. Hillier again went close with an effort which flew inches wide of the post when put clear on the left edge of the area on 34 minutes.
Emma Whitlock had a shot just wide for Southampton and Roberts was out quickly to deny Newton a second as the young Saints impressed with their speed and movement off the ball. Gosport defended with real purpose to keep chances to a minimum in a tight first half.
The pattern continued after the break but the contest became more stretched as Gosport pushed on in search of an equaliser.
Southampton's speed on the break started to create more chances and Roberts produced a stunning double save from Newton on 65 minutes, blocking the first shot before tipping the follow up effort wide of the post.
Gosport's Jess Timbrell forced a good save from Rendell after powering through two tackles and firing in a low shot but generally the Southampton defence was solid and with Phoebe Williams controlling midfield it always looked likely that a second goal would come.
Roberts saved at Newton's feet and Caitlin Collighan hit the bar from the rebound but finally the Gosport defence was breached from a corner on 89 minutes as Collighan drove home from a tight angle beyond the far post.
As always, the Hampshire County Women's League Finals day was well supported, organised and officiated, showcasing some of the best talent in the league.
Southampton FC Women: Kayla Rendell, Emma Whitlock, Megan Jones, Harriet Eastham, Chloe Podger, Kelly Fripp, Lauren Fraser, Phoebe Williams, Chloe Newton, Jenna Sutton, Emily May-Smith. Subs: Sara Luce, Caitlin Collighan, Sam Burt, Rachel Richards, Emma Godden.
Gosport Borough: Roxy Roberts, Keeka Way, Charlotte Roli, Jess Timbrell, Mia Gardner, Emma Pickering, Lynsey Crewe, Lysette Russell, Gemma Hillier, Megan Colley, Kayleigh Merrett. Subs: Charlotte Lindsey, Jess Codrington.
(Report by Patrick Higgins, Photo - www.jamesprickett.co.uk)
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