12th April 2017
After a pulsating, dramatic 90 minutes of football, Cheltenham Town Ladies capped arguably their most successful season by winning the GFA County Women’s Trophy, 5-4 in a sudden death penalty shoot out.
The game itself was played at a frenetic pace from the start. Cheltenham settling the best and their speed and excellent passing had St Nicholas on the backfoot, however, despite this Cheltenham never really made any clear cut chances.
But after 26 minutes, a well taken corner from Sophie Wyatt, saw Louise Fensome head powerfully in to give Cheltenham the lead. This seemed to settle the game down and Cheltenham’s passing and movement was proving too much for St Nicholas.
Chances were being created but some good goalkeeping from Lauren White in the St Nicholas goal meant the score at half time was 1-0 to Cheltenham.
The 2nd half started in the same way, Cheltenham with lots of possession, but just unable to get the 2nd goal, and at only 1-0 down, St Nicholas gradually worked their way back into the game.
Cheltenham’s defence were now under pressure, and St Nicholas created two or more really good chances, and it was no surprise when they equalised in the 65th minute. A quick break down their right and excellent cross was fired home by Lauren Ellis.
The game was now very open as both teams pushed for the winner and avoid the dreaded penalty shoot out. The best chance falling to St Nicholas, a powerful shot from Rebecca Rexworthy, hit the underside of the bar, but luckily for Cheltenham bounced away from the goal and was cleared.
A frentic finish to the game, saw it finish 1-1 with penalties required to decide the winners.
Cheltenham won the toss, and after each scoring their penalties, Cheltenham missed their fourth. St Nicholas then only needed to score to win but they hit the bar, 4-4 and into sudden death it went. Both sides missed with their sixth kicks, then Rose Knuckey coolly slotted in Cheltenham’s seventh, St Nicholas missed, and Cheltenham Town Ladies were the winners!!
Manager Graham Fletcher, commented after the game: “I thought when we took the lead with Feno’s fantastic header, we would go on and take control of the game. We did that to a certain extent, but at 1-0, we needed the second goal But I give immense credit to St Nicholas, they battled and fought for every ball in the 2nd half, and the crossbar saved us.
“It takes a lot of courage to take a penalty in a shoot out, and I was almost convinced we had lost that too, but they missed their opportunity to win it twice, and then again to stay in the shoot out, but they missed. iI’s a great feeling to have won the game, and in such a dramatic fashion, but a shame that one team has to lose on penalties.
“My team have been magnificent this season, and at times tonight our pass and move and link up play was first class. St Nicholas pushed us all the way, but of course I am delighted for my team, and its great to win some silverware for the club. I would also like to say a massive thank you to all the people who came to watch the game, the atmosphere was electric.”