Cup final heartbreak for Hemel Town Ladies against Stevenage

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Stevenage Ladies claimed the Cameo Kitchens Women’s County Cup after beating Hemel Hempstead Town Ladies 3-0 in an evenly contested game at The County Ground in Letchworth.

In a very close first half, it was Hemel who had the first sight of goal as Kayleigh Baker connected sweetly with a drive from 30 yards out that produced a good save from Stevenage keeper Chrissy Roberts.

Eight minutes later it was up to Hemel keeper Ruth Gorin to keep out the opposition as she twice collected bravely at the top of her box to deny livewire Stevenage striker Nicole Perschky.

As the first half continued, Hemel began to find a rhythm against their higher ranked opponents – The Greater London’s Women League team frustrating Stevenage with a well drilled offside trap and some tidy possession play.

But it took an incredible reflex save from Gorin to prevent Gemma Darvill from putting Stevenage ahead in the 26th minute from point blank range.

The Tudors responded well to Stevenage’s pressure, though, and came close to breaking the deadlock in the last 15 minutes of the first half.

My girls were amazing today, and we’re proud to have made it against the odds to the final

Hemel Hempstead Town Ladies manager Charlene Turturici

Nat McConville went close in the 32nd minute, using superb technique to sting Chrissy Roberts’ fingertips from 25 yards out, before Suz Read rolled a shot inches past the Stevenage post in the 40th minute.

However, only seconds before the half-time whistle blew it was Stevenage who created arguably the best chance of the half. Perschky danced past a player on the right before whipping an in-swinging cross for Alex North, who saw her header clip the wrong side of the post.

After the restart, Stevenage came out with a rekindled passion and they were nearly rewarded seven minutes into the second half when Perschky was denied by Gorin when through one-on-one.

The Hemel keeper wasn’t unable to repeat the feat three minutes later, however, when a defensive mix-up allowed Stevenage to open the scoring.

Donna McGuigan was the benefactor as she slotted home in the 56th minute to give Boro the lead.

Going a goal behind didn’t deter Hemel, though, and in the 64th minute Chrissy Roberts denied the Tudors a certain equaliser – saving a deflected Steph Cripps effort magnificently.

Read saw another one of her attempts go only a whisker wide of the post as Hemel continued to look for a way back into the game, while Stevenage started to look dangerous on the counter-attack, with sub Holly Jardine causing problems with her pace.

Boro were rewarded for their play on the break in the 80th minute, when Donna McGuigan was brought down in the area for a Stevenage penalty.

Stevenage player/manager Josie North stepped up to the convert the spot kick low to Gorin’s right.

North was on hand again in stoppage time to seal victory for Stevenage, sweeping a low finish across her body into the far post after excellent play on the wing from Perschky.

Hemel Ladies manager Charlene Turturici said: “It was a good game, and 3-0 is certainly a flattering score line for Stevenage.

“My girls were amazing today, and we’re proud to have made it against the odds to the final, although in the end we’re obviously disappointed to lose.”