Watford Ladies young guns fight back to claim the cup on penalties

Watford Ladies Harts celebrate their cup win. Picture (c) Callum Riley
Watford Ladies Harts celebrate their cup win. Picture (c) Callum Riley
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Hemel Hempstead starlet Jemimah Rose played her part as Watford Ladies Harts beat Garston Ladies Met in a classic Cameo Kitchens Girls U13 Challenge Cup final at The County Ground on Sunday.

The Harts came back from 2-0 down in the last five minutes of the game to take the final to extra-time before eventually winning the tournament on sudden death penalty kicks.

What an amazing game, and what a great advert for girls’ football in Hertfordshire.

Watford Ladies Harts coach Gary Knott

The victory was the first time Watford Ladies have lifted the trophy since it was established 10 years ago.

On a sunny spring morning in Letchworth, the two teams from the HGFPL provided a great advertisement for girls’ football - playing with terrific quality, commitment and sportsmanship in a game that kept over 125 spectators on the edge of their seat from the first whistle to the last.

The match kicked off at a fast and furious pace as both teams moved the ball quickly to create opportunities in the first half. Garston Ladies Met quickly found their rhythm and played some impressive pass and move football that eventually broke down the Harts defence.

In the last minute of the opening period, Abby Reith broke the deadlock for Garston to put her team 1-0 up with a cool finish going in to the break.

After the restart, Garston Ladies continued to push forward and Abbie Lafayette got the reward her impressive performance deserved for Garston, putting her side 2-0 up with a superb strike from 15 yards out.

Watford Ladies would not go down without a fight, however, and the Harts quickly responded to going two goals behind - with Amy Doherty, Lola Forsyth and Roma Agnihotri forcing Garston keeper Lauren Nolan-Coggon to be at her best on several different occasions.

With five minutes to go in the second period, Watford eventually found a way past Nolan-Coggon and had a lifeline back into the game.

Forsyth drove down the right hand side of the field before pulling back the ball back across the box for Amy Ryan to sweep home a sweet right footed finish into the top corner of the net to make the score 2-1.

Forsyth then had the ball in the net again four minutes later to equalise in a remarkable last gasp revival for the Harts. The forward who had been dangerous all game slotted home in the dying seconds of the game to force the final into extra-time.

The two 10 minute halves of extra-time still couldn’t find a winner between the two evenly matched teams, and the final then moved to penalties.

Watford Ladies went on to edge Garston Ladies in the shootout in sudden death to complete an incredible comeback and claim the Cameo Kitchens Girls U13 Cup.

Speaking after the game, Watford Ladies coach Gary Knott said: “What an amazing game, and what a great advert for girls’ football in Hertfordshire.

“To be honest it’s a shame one team had to lose, and we have to give credit to the Garston Ladies team and management - they have a great set up there and do things the right way.”

Garston Ladies Met: Lauren Nolan-Coggon, Mia Ford, Catriona Condon, Abbie Lafayette, Jennifer Thomson, Hannah Coote, Megan Allaway, Jasmine Phillips, Raaya Thanki, Katie Edmunds, Libby Poster, Ruby Jager, Abby Reith

Watford Ladies Harts: Grace Harrrington, Georgia Knott, Molly Gough, Isabella Hughes, Jessica Gough, Amy Doherty, Jemimah Rose, Roma Agnihotri, Amy Ryan, Lola Forsyth, Neve Mayes, Taya O’Donohue, Annabel Black.