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Women win the Staffordshire Women's Challenge Cup

Women win the Staffordshire Women's Challenge Cup

Kelly Williams10 Apr - 15:32
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Khalsa beat leek 3-1 to become Staffordshire Women's Challenge Cup Winners.

Sporting Khalsa Women beat fellow Tier 4 side Leek Town Women to win their first Staffordshire Challenge Cup.

Leek came out of the traps a little quicker and with less than a minute gone made it 1-0 through Price. This gave Leek confidence and led to them creating a chance for Dele a minute later, but she didn't manage to get the connection she needed and Khalsa's number 1 Tilly Hall collected.

Khalsa started to edge possession and with that came opportunities, with Austin-Short having two chances in quick succession, Joyce and Walker also came close but were not clinical enough. However, on the 19th minute, Cooper's delivery from the corner found Smith, who directed her header into the back of the net. Both sides pushed to take the lead, but it was Khalsa with arguably the best of the chances, with Austin-Short, Walker and Smith coming closest. The score at HT however remained 1-1.

Khalsa started the second half with intent and Walker came close in the very early stages but Cottrell managed to save. A minute later, Joyce unleashed a powerful effort inside the box, but it was a little too fierce as it bounced off the bar and the rebound was hit wide of the post. Next was Smith who headed just wide and Austin-Short went close again but was denied by Cottrell in the Leek goal.

Around 60 minutes in Joyce and Hall (c) made way, with Mulligan making good use of the flexibility of roll on roll off substitutions. Wickett and Clark came on, and their energy started to cause problems for Leek and in the 64th minute, combined to give Khalsa the lead. Sparkes won a header from a Leek throw, J Smith wins the second ball, plays it to Clark, around the corner for Wickett, who finds Lowri with a killer pass between the CB and FB. Lowri shapes to fire into the far right but slots it calmly just inside the near post, wrong footing Cottrell.

Khalsa continued to search for their third, maintaining the pressure on Leek who continued to defend resolutely. Khalsa arguably should have had a penalty following a handball in the box, but the claim's were waived away by the referee. Next it was Smith who had a good chance, only to be denied by Cottrell who managed to tip the ball over the bar from her well struck effort from distance.

The 3rd and final goal to seal victory came from a corner around ten minutes from full-time. Leek struggled to clear after the ball was flicked towards the back post and Cann was alive and steered it home with her left foot.

Graham and Green came on and their experience and fresh legs helped maintain control. Leek were awarded a free kick in a promising position following a foul by Graham, but it was defended well. McGovern was also introduced and again helped the team to maintain control and remain defensively strong.

FT Leek 1 - Sporting Khalsa 3.
Laura Smith was awarded player of the match.

The club reached their first ever cup final in 2011/12 season and Tuesday night was their 9th County Cup Final in twenty years since being founded in 2004.

Tier 3 side Stoke City have won the competition an impressive 13 times in a row and, for the last three seasons, in particular, Sporting Khalsa have shown real progress on and off the pitch and been able to get closer to challenging in this competition. Last season's Cup Final v Stoke City was extremely close, and a controversial decision denied Sporting Khalsa the winner in normal time minutes before the end. Stoke City went on to win the game on penalties.

This season the sides met in the Semi-Final and in another closely contested game against a very strong Stoke City side, Khalsa recorded a 3-2 victory and progressed to the final. Leek beat Newcastle Town 3-1 to progress which meant that there would be a new name for the the first time in a number of years engraved on the trophy.

Last night the cup final attracted 475 people to Stafford Town FC, Switch Sport Radio provided live commentary and Staffordshire FA and both clubs were keeping everyone who couldn't attend up to date via social media. There were a number of young girls from the youth set ups from both clubs watching, performing mascot duty and joining in the half-time football activities with Berkswitch Galaxy Girls.

Winning the Women's Challenge Cup for the first time is a great achievement for the club and all involved, and we want to continue to challenge for trophies and make progress on and off the pitch.

Your support on Tuesday night was amazing as has been the increase in attendances this season. We also wouldn't be able to have done what we have without the support of our sponsors this season, so thank you all.

Our final few games are as follows:
Derby County Reserves (Friendly) 14th April @The Guardian Warehousing Arena, WV13 3BB
Leafield Athletic (League) 21st April @Castle Vale Stadium, B35 7LQ
West Bromwich Albion (Friendly) 28th April @The Guardian Warehousing Arena, WV13 3BB
Sheffield FC (League) 5th May @The Home of Football Stadium, S18 2GD

We would love your support as we continue to maintain our pressure on the league leaders Loughborough Lightening and to achieve a top two finish.

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