It was a victorious end to the season for ‘The Whites’ as they secured a cup double by defeating Arnold Eagles by three goals in the League Cup final.
In what was a fairly low-quality game, most of United’s early chances came from the crossing of right-back Frankie Wilson. However, the constant pressure towards the goal provided the side with a reward as Ellie Gilliatt grabbed the game's first goal after 21 minutes. The Eagles lost the ball in midfield and a quick counter-attack led to Lauren Churcher playing the ball through to Gilliatt. The forward drove down the right before producing a quality finish on her weaker right foot into the bottom left corner.
#TheWhites 1-0 Arnold Eagles
Not long later, Arnold came within inches of equalising, as a header from a corner crashed into the crossbar. The luck was then returned to the Eagles as Gilliat smashed a shot into the bar after cutting in on her left foot.
It only took three minutes of the second half for ‘The Whites’ to double their lead. Churcher progressed into the penalty box and played the ball to Duxbury-Mead, who had an attempt at goal ball fell into Gilliatt's feet, who blocked but blasted past the keeper.
#TheWhites 2-0 Arnold Eagles
Fifteen minutes later, the lead became three. It was a special goal as Duxbury-Mead scored her final-ever goal on her last career appearance. Wilson played the ball in between two defenders to the striker, who travelled forwards before executing a delightful curled finish over the keeper into the far corner. Afterwards, she bowed to her fans to acknowledge her amazing career.
#TheWhites 3-0 Arnold Eagles
Wilson almost added a fourth as she made a darting run towards the goal but couldn’t supply an accurate finish. Substitutions were introduced to freshen up the side, in the form of Kaitlin Peaker, Liv Smith and Tallulah Freeman who replaced Betsy Thomas, Megan Long and Sally Cairns.
There was one more special moment left as Duxbury-Mead was given her farewell with four minutes remaining, as Thomas returned to her position. It was an emotional goodbye for the goalscorer after a long playing career.
The full-time whistle brought an end to the game and ensured that ‘The Whites’ were announced as double cup winners.
They will now rest after a long season before returning to prepare for next year, in which they will target promotion to Step 4.
Written by James Ede. Photo Credit: Ed Mayes Photography