History was made at the Jakeman's Community Stadium as ‘The Whites’ delivered an incredible performance to beat local rivals Lincoln City 2-0 and win the Lincolnshire County Cup.
With their opponents competing in a league higher up, United were tasked with producing an inspired performance in front of a couple of hundred vocal supporters to deliver the club’s first-ever Lincolnshire County Cup.
Straight from kick-off, they never allowed City to settle as they applied constant pressure to their defence and midfield. If you didn’t know, you would have thought that ‘The Whites’ were regularly playing at the same level of football as their opponents.
Early chances from Ellie Gilliatt and Betsy Thomas showed the side’s intent as they looked to test the keeper.
The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute with a goal of the season contender from left-back Sally Cairns. With the ball travelling across her from the left, she curled the ball over the head of the keeper and it dipped under the bar into the back of the net. The crowd erupted with celebrations and encouraged their team to keep going.
#TheWhites 1 - 0 Lincoln City WFC
Only six minutes later, United were given a chance to double their lead as Gilliatt was brought down inside the penalty box and the referee pointed to the spot. Lauren Churcher stepped up in hope of converting but was denied by the keeper as she made a good save down to her right.
A couple of minutes later, keeper Amy Hood made her first vital involvement of the game as she came out brilliantly to claim the ball as the City striker raced in one-on-one.
After 35 minutes, that much-needed second goal came to reassure the team that they were fully in control. Churcher’s corner from the left was perfectly flighted to land on the head of Demi Barai, who guided the ball into the bottom left corner.
#TheWhites 2 - 0 Lincoln City WFC
Throughout the first half, Thomas gave her opposing defender nightmares as she continued to twist and turn past her and came close to scoring numerous times.
Lincoln United WFC 2 - 0 Lincoln City WFC (HT)
The second half began in a very end-to-end fashion with City looking to pull a goal back and United looking for a third goal to assert their dominance. Gilliatt started to show her skill on the right wing and City’s number 20 will still be running round in circles chasing after her.
With the majority of the 295 fans in attendance cheering the team on, ‘The Whites’ were also forced into some hard work in defence. Annie Ward and Hood both showed brilliant calmness to not panic in making several blocks and saves respectively.
United began to regain control as Thomas and Gilliatt in particular looked threatening and consistently caused the opposition’s defence problems.
Hood again made a fantastic save as she pounced on the ball mere seconds before the attacker unleashed a shot. She was then grateful to her defender Annie Ward for covering her after the ball had been poked past her, but Ward was in the right position to prevent an easy chance for opening goal for City.
As the game came into the last ten minutes, City’s players became increasingly frustrated as their hopes of winning the cup were kept at bay by the underdogs.
United’s only substitution was made in the 87th minute when Liv Smith replaced Megan Long, as she appeared to have taken a knock or some other sort of injury.
As the four minutes of added time came to an end, the bench full of substitutes poured onto the pitch to celebrate with their on-field teammates.
Lincoln United WFC 2 - 0 Lincoln City WFC (FT)
Once everyone had celebrated with fans at the side of the pitch, the awards got underway. Annie Ward was awarded the Player of the Match award for her incredibly solid defensive performance, reflecting her impressive season overall.
Then it all came down to the trophy lift, presented by Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam.
‘The Whites’ made history on a day that will live long in the memory of all the players, staff and spectators who were there to witness the special event.
They now have one more league match remaining this season, which will be at Ashby Avenue next Sunday 30th April.
Match report by James Ede, Photo by Ed Mayes Photography (Rights held by Lincolnshire Football Association)