A last gasp header from substitute; Charlotte Broad ensured that Nottingham Forest ladies retained the Women’s Senior Cup but not before a tremendous challenge from a Radcliffe outfit from a tier below.
The game kicked off in sweltering conditions and Forest were first to threaten, as Andrea Bell latched onto deep cross from the left, only to see her cross-shot fly past the far post. They continued to press but Olympic should have broken the deadlock after eleven minutes, when Ashleigh Evans, with the goal at her mercy from ten yards out, fired over.
The game was beginning to be more competitive and Bell worked another opportunity, as she raced past the Olympic defence but was thwarted by the quick thinking ‘keeper but it was Radcliffe that should have been ahead from the counter-attack, as Rania Ramadan, worked an opening on the edge of the area, only to see her fine strike rebound from the upright with the Forest custodian beaten.
The teams paused for a water break mid-way through the first half due to the scorching temperature on the pitch.
After the restart it was the reds to show with a fine move between Bell, Sophie Bonser and Katie Lowder resulted in the latter firing over from twenty five yards.
The game started to open up, firstly Radcliffe responded with Evan’s seeing her shot blocked by the Forest’s centre back, winning a corner for her side. Next Forest Ladies had two chances in the later stages of the half, however attempts from Rebecca Kemp and Katie McLoughlin were both watched wide by the Radcliffe keeper.
In the 43rd minute, Radcliffe broke forward with the ball in a rapid counter attack, it looked as though they were through on goal until Forest captain, Lyndsey Harkin tracked back to steal the ball from the feet of the striker and prevent the attack. Just a minute later Radcliffe striker Evan’s created a one on one chance inside the Forest box however she could not execute the finish and the shot was saved by Aja Aguirre. In the final minute of the first half Honor Cantrell fired a stunning overhead kick just wide of the left post for Radcliffe, meaning that both sides went into the break without a goal.
Forest kicked off the second half, and instantly pressed forward with intense energy, a cross delivered by Bonser in the 47th minute was just inches from the head of Kemp at the back post. Another chance came just two minutes later, but with Bell in sight of goal she struggled to get the ball out of her feet and the chance was gone.
The second period was only ten minutes old when Lowder saw a well-directed header cleared off the Radcliffe line but Olympic countered and should have been ahead two minutes later. Chantelle Lewis had only been on the pitch a few minutes before she burst into the Forest penalty area, only to be unceremoniously brought down. Referee; Gerry Ward immediately pointed to the spot and Beth Bailey stepped up but placed her shot too near Aguirre, who parried the effort for Bailey to strike her follow-up effort against the bar and over.
Forest almost capitalised on this reprieve, as Becky Kemp twice went close, firing over from twenty five yards and then wide from a similar distance.
This was followed by two near misses from Olympic, with full back; Lauren Plummer firing a screamer from the corner of the box beyond the far post and then Alice Kempski glancing a close-range effort just wide from a delightful Plummer cross.
With both sides almost out on their feet in the gruelling conditions and extra-time looming, Forest forced a corner in the dying seconds for heroine; Broad to rise majestically and power a header inside the near post.
It was only a matter of running the remainder of the clock down for Forest who took the ball to the corner and maintained possession until the game ended.
The awards were presented by The Nottinghamshire FA Chairman; Mr Brian Hambidge, supported by County Association Board members Mr Peter Adams and John Wheat, with Beth Bailey of Radcliffe Olympic ladies being named Player of the Match and Lyndsey Harkin lifting the Trophy on behalf of Nottingham Forest Ladies.
Match report courtesy of John Wheat, Nottinghamshire FA Board Member & Lily Sayers member of Nottinghamshire FA Youth Council.
Photographs courtesy of Alexandra Johnson Photography www.alexandrajohnsonphotography.co.uk @ASJphotography
In addition to the final, at half-time Simon Morgan was introduced to the crowd, Simon is part of Clifton All Whites FC committee who is cycling from Barnsley to Amsterdam on June 9th to raise money and awareness for Men United http://menunited.prostatecanceruk.org/ which is for Prostate Cancer UK, and made a pledge to donate half of any monies raised on the night to the British Red Cross for the Manchester Emergency Fund appeal following the atrocities earlier in the week. The donations on the night raised £108.00, so £54.00 to each of the charities.
If you would like to donate to Simon’s challenge please see the following link;http://www.nottinghamshirefa.com/news/2017/may/nfa-womens-senior-cup-final-match-report#JiuPQRvEOXG2LgxL.99