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Cup Final Report – Harlow Ladies v Runwell Hospital Ladies

The Supporting Women’s Football Blog was in Essex on Sunday to watch the Women’s League Cup Final played between Harlow Ladies, newly crowned Champions of Division One and looking to achieve a quadruple taking on Premier Division side Runwell Hospital Ladies who had reached their 1st final in the clubs history. The whole game report from the blog can be found below.

Cup Final Report – Harlow Ladies v Runwell Hospital Ladies

  Herongate Athletic FC is the destination for today’s women’s football action, another Cup Final this on from Essex, the Women’s League Cup, Harlow Ladies v Runwell Hospital Ladies.

  Two sides contested the Essex Women’s League Cup Final for the 1st time. 

  Harlow Ladies have taken the women’s football scene in Essex by storm this season their 1st season together under the Harlow banner and are aiming for a quadruple. Have won the Essex Women’s Division One title with a 100% win record. Have also won the Essex Women’s Trophy and Tiptree & District Women’s Charity Cup and will be hoping to add the League Cup too. A young side have an U18s side hot on their heels too.

  Runwell Hospital FC have run a women’s football team on and off for a number of years now, the current Ladies side have been together for 2 seasons now achieved promotion from Division One to the Essex Women’s Premier Division in their 1st season together and have held their own in the top division this season amongst the title contenders early on suffered a few injury set backs mid-season which saw them fall away from the leaders have secured a comfortable 5th placed finish. Today’s League Cup Final is the 1st final any Runwell Hospital Ladies side has reached.

Road to the Final
 Both sides received a Bye in the 1st Round of the competition. A tough challenge for Harlow Ladies in the 2nd Round drawn at home to face the leaders of the Essex Women’s Premier Division at that time, Chelmsford City Ladies, won the game 3-2. Were drawn at home to face fellow Division One side Chigwell Ladies in the quarter finals the fixture wasn’t played a home win awarded Harlow Ladies advanced to the semi-finals and an away day at Premier Division side Eastern Avenue who were the holders of the League Cup. Edged the game 2-1 to book their 3rd final appearance of the season. 
  Runwell Hospital Ladies were also up against a Chelmsford City Ladies side in the 2nd Round of the League Cup at home against their Reserves from Division One, won the game 2-1 to reach the quarter finals and another away trip taking on fellow Premier Division side Walden Ladies, a 3-1 victory saw them through to the semi-finals and a home tie against another Premier Division side Collier Row Tigers, a 2-1 win saw the club reach their 1st ever Cup Final.

  The venue for today’s Essex Women’s League Cup Final, Herongate Athletic FC, situated in the village of Herongate a large clubhouse with bar and function hall overlooks the main pitch and playing fields beyond. A large pitch freshly mowed with a good covering of grass a few dips hidden here and there. A picturesque setting for a final on a bright and sunny day, few clouds dotted about but no chance of rain as the two sides walked out onto the pitch. 

  Harlow Ladies starting XI – Sarah Walker, Megan Sende, Christie Seakens, Imogen Palmer (C), Phoebe McMurray, Riley Bennett, Eliza Weeks, Victoria Hill, Philippa Stephens, Abbie Bensted & Nene McInerney. 
  subs – Catherine Kelly, Tia Dye & Chloe Ring.

  Runwell Hospital Ladies starting XI – Hayley Johnson, Gemma Vine, Rebecca Pope, Sophie Olley, Ashleigh Harvey, Lisa Harris (C), Rachael Selfe, Sammie Delves, Lauren Wooley, Emma Slater & Vicky Martin

  subs – Danni Caton, Grace Nightingale, Jessica Light & Nik Chapman.

 (roll on roll off substitutes)

  It’s Runwell to get the Essex Women’s League Cup Final underway wearing yellow shirts with blue vertical stripes down the front, blue shorts and socks with Harlow lined up in red shirts with white across the shoulders, red shorts and red socks with a white band at the top. Play is congested in the middle in the opening minute both sides wanting to get it out into the channels defences cutting out the ball. Harlow work the ball from right to left across the Runwell box, Philippa Stephens attacking on the left looks to carry the ball on is stopped by Runwell’s Ashleigh Harvey sets up a counter attack the ball carries up the right side a throw in won deep in Harlow territory.
  GOAL! Runwell take an early led in the final the goal coming from the throw is played into Sammie Delves and rolled across the face of the Harlow box with Rachael Selfe left unmarked in front of the D, turns the ball goalwards as it comes into her, goes past Harlow keeper Sarah Walker, rolls inside the post put Runwell in front 0-1.
  Harlow go straight on the offensive from the restart get the ball out to the left side Stephens playing the ball into Abbie Bensted making a run ahead of her breaking into the area wide of goal pulls the trigger puts her shot straight at Runwell keeper, Hayley Johnson covering the angle. In the next move Stephens is the player getting onto the end of a long diagonal past sprayed out to her from the right carries the ball into the Runwell area looks to knock the ball on is deflected behind for a corner kick.
  GOAL! Harlow get themselves back on level terms from the corner kick taken from the left the ball is swept in towards the near post, Johnson makes the decision to come for it comes along way and doesn’t get anything on it, flies on into the six yard box, Nene McInerney is free in the middle, so to is Eliza Weeks in front of her and she turns the ball into the back of the net from close range to make it 1-1 and barely 5 minutes of the game has been played.
Harlow Ladies, Eliza Weeks 
  Another corner won by Harlow on the right this time the ball is sent in with pace towards Christie McMurray coming from the edge of the area to meet it near side gets a glancing header on the ball looking to knock it on, Runwell’s Selfe is right behind her the ball comes at her quickly her header sends the ball looping up towards her own goal, sees it cleared by the defender covering the far post. Bensted picks up the ball for Harlow has Victoria Hill sprinting free into space on the right closing on the byline squares the cross into the box is intercepted and cleared by Vicky Martin at the near post. Emma Slater gets hold of the ball in the middle sending it long for Selfe up the left flank tries to turn inside is stopped by Weeks.
Emma Slater on the ball for Runwell Hospital Ladies
  Runwell threaten to break on the counter a fantastic ball from Sophie Olley up towards the right side of the Harlow area has Delves after the ball, racing out of her six yard box Walker arrives just in the knick of time just inside her area to slide in put the ball out for a throw as Delves goes over her. Runwell keep possession around Harlow’s area looking to thread the ball into the box, Harlow captain Imogen Palmer puts the ball behind for the corner kick.
  Harlow win the ball from the corner and try to break McInerney has it on the left side, attempts to put Bensted away through the middle the ball is cut out but not cleared finds its way to Hill on the right side her cross is long towards the far post Stephens has made up the ground, brings the ball down well great control shown to turn and hit on the volley, the attempt at goal is sent over the bar.
   Harlow come again the ball held up on the right side top of the area by McInerney, rolls it back to Hill who one again looks for Stephens at the far post, gets he head to the ball this time knocking it down across goal, Johnson gets down sharply for a moment it looks as though the ball has squirmed under the keeper will roll over the line, but Johnson reacts quickly gets to it stopping it before it rolls all the way. 
Runwell Hospital Ladies, Gemma Vine
  Harlow are creating chances but risk getting caught on the counter, Gemma Vine brings the ball out from left back up the line for Selfe, gets the throw deep on the left, links up with Vine again who launches the ball into the Harlow area, Delves the target, too much on the ball allows Walker to gather. Harlow are pushing forwards when Runwell play the ball back to Johnson the goalkeepers kick is good going long over halfway, Selfe steals in behind the defence races for the area, Christie Seakens recovers well the centre back getting back to tackle Selfe on the edge of the area. Changes for Harlow, Riley Bennett coming off with Catherine Kelly coming on. Tia Dye is on to in place of McInerney.
Rachael Selfe looking to get the ball in behind the Harlow defence
   The substitute has an early opportunity to make an impact is over a free kick won on the right side 22 yards from goal, goes for the shot takes it past the 2 player wall on the near side little to aim at the shot is wide. Harlow with the ball come again the ball played by McMurray out to Hill on the right cuts the cross back towards Bensted inside the D, brings the ball down on her chest and hits the shot on the volley sending it out towards the far post, rolls a foot wide of target.
Harlow Ladies, Phoebe McMurray bringing the ball under control
  Double change for Runwell, Rebecca Pope and Martin coming off for Grace Nightingale and Nik Chapman. Nightingale brings down Dye as she tries to make a run through into the area drifting right, is yellow carded the free kick to the right of goal is taken by Bensted looks to go for goal puts the effort well over the top of the crossbar.
  GOAL! 10 minutes before half time Harlow take the lead, pushing down the left side Stephens on the ball looks to force her way into the area plenty of yellow shirts ahead of her get their foot on the ball trying to clear hits a body and stays a threat 3 occasions cannot get the ball away Stephens trying to get to it hustling the defence the ball inside the six yard area is deflected into the path of Dye front of goal opens up her body and turns the ball in across goal 2-1.
  GOAL! The lead doesn’t last long, am still trying to finish my notes from Harlow’s goal as Runwell attack right from the restart the ball played out to the left carried up the pitch an advantage is played the ball fired inside early across the front of the Harlow area, Runwell have plenty of players breaking from midfield, one of those is Chapman meets the ball 20 yards out right of the D a brilliant strike the shot arrows into the top corner 2-2. 
Nik Chapman, closest to the ball with a brilliant strike to make it 2-2 for Runwell Hospital Ladies
  Nightingale defends well up against Dye as they pair go for the ball as it enters the Runwell area left side. Slater is hurt outside her area as she comes back to help defend clear the ball looks to have hurt her knee, a lengthy spell of treatment she is up walking albeit gingerly is taken off with Pope returning to the field. Change for Harlow Seakens off for Bennett the move seeing Kelly drop into defence. The Runwell defence is turned Dye goes after the ball stealing it from Harvey as she struggles to control carries the ball on into the ball taking it right side lifts her shot over.
Runwell Hospital Ladies, Rebecca Pope battles with Harlow’s
Phoebe McMurray for control of the ball
 Harvey then cuts a ball from Bennett in the middle intended for Stephens on the left conceding the corner. Taken short on the left the ball is fired in low and with pace towards the near post, an unorthodox but effective save by Johnson superb reflexes to stop it with her feet and get plenty of distance on the clearance, gathered out on the left by Harlow a high ball is sent back into the area dropping late Johnson back on her line has it covered the ball drops just over the bar.
Half-time Harlow Ladies 2-2 Runwell Hospital Ladies

   A scrappy 1st half both sides competitive not letting the other settle on the ball, both have had the lead and lost it almost straight away. Harlow have created more chances but the score tells you it’s not about how many you have it’s how many you take. Runwell have been on the back foot defending well enough but not getting hold of the ball for any sustained period, taken both their chances well.
  Harlow kick off the 2nd half press the ball high on the left side early on Wooley gets winded getting in the way of a cross fired into the area. Possession is retained on the left side Hill tries to bring the ball inside Runwell captain Lisa Harris comes to tackle win the ball back. Played on into Pope forwards for Chapman who sends the pass out to Delves on the right has Olley ahead of her taking the ball down the line wins a corner.
  GOAL! A Runwell corner on the right side but it’s Harlow who score up the other end, the ball is sent into the area by Runwell is intercepted by Bennett who brings it out of her area coming left plays it wide for Bensted as they counter attack rapidly, bringing the ball up to half way sends in on for Dye ahead of her giving chase gets hold of it 20 yards out taking it on into the Runwell area has a defender trying to get back on her with the keeper coming trying to stay big Dye puts the shot through her legs and scores 3-2 to give Harlow the lead again 5 minutes into the start of the 2nd half.
Two goals in the Essex Women’s League Cup Final for Tia Dye
  Bensted wins the ball in midfield 25 yards out drives a shot in towards goal, Johnson is well positioned in her goal gets her gloves firmly around the ball. Runwell get the ball up the pitch quickly Nightingale up to Selfe on the left the ball is fired into the Harlow area Delves has peeled away to the right is free the ball dropping to her hits the volley on the run sends the strike over the crossbar from 10 yards out. Tempo has clearly been lifted at the start of the 2nd half Harlow come back up the other end Hill seeing a strike from the edge of the box blocked at close range. 
  Double change for Runwell, Harris and Harvey come off, Danni Caton and Martin come on. Harlow are pushing players forwards whenever they have the ball getting bodies in and around the area attacking up the right the ball is squared across the face of the area rolling into Hill inside the D turns the ball in towards goal Johnson throws herself across her goal to the left the ball just wide of the post. Stephens returns to the action for Harlow, Bennett off.
Runwell Hospital Ladies
Sophie Olley
  Despite her error early on Johnson has been confident coming for the ball from the corner and even though she has been clattered into a couple of times has more often than not won the ball punching clear or making the claim, this time from a corner put in from the right she comes and collects sets up a quick attack the ball played into midfield helped on to find Delves drifting away to the right as she enters the area, her shot is blocked deflected behind for a corner kick. A fantastic save from Walker in the Harlow goal from the set piece the ball fired in from the right is headed on by Harlow as they attempt to clear the area runs on towards the edge of the box, Olley is making a run from a deeper position latches onto the ball hitting it hard and low back into towards goal, Walker is down sharply to get her body behind the ball stops the shot the ball is cleared. 
  Weeks is given a rest for Harlow with Seakens returning to the field. Runwell getting a little bit of joy played the all forwards through the centre, Olley going after a long all is held up by the Harlow defence allowing Walker to come to the edge of her area claim the ball. Megan Sende rings the ball up the field on the left for Harlow, winning a throw high up the pitch links up with Dye who knocks the all on into the area centre rolls to Bensted scuffs her effort allowing Runwell chance to get it away.
  GOAL! Harlow retain possession of the ball from the clearance played out to the right side of the pitch the ball is sent back into the Runwell box lofted high into the air falls to Bensted who has made a move towards the left side to attack the far post area, good connection with the ball to lift the shot high into the top corner and see Harlow gain a 2 goal advantage 4-2.
 McInerney comes back on for Harlow, Dye off. Bensted plays the pass into Hill inside the Runwell area right side of the six yard box has a defender on her shoulder, Johnson comes to close down throws herself at Hill’s feet making the save the all blocked turned behind for a corner, Johnson is hurt in the challenge needs treatment. Okay to continue comes for the ball from the resulting corner gets enough on it to push it back out wide to the taker Bensted, she looks to lift the ball long to the far post area with Stephens coming in, the ball bounces through Stephens not quite able to get there. Change for Runwell Jessica Light coming on going up top for Selfe. 
Harlow Ladies, Victoria Hill
  Stephens gets hold of the ball drives up the left for Harlow, closing down to the byline cuts the ball back in towards the front of the six yard box comes to McInerney, hits the shot 1st time, Johnson dives full stretch to her right pushes the ball from goal, still in play Stephens squeezes the ball back in towards McInerney tries to open up her body turn the ball the opposite side with Johnson still grounded, doesn’t get any pace on the ball as the keeper scrambling up lunges for the ball laying claim to it.
  Runwell need a goal and are pushing a few extra bodies forwards Caton winning the ball at the back sends it into the middle, Pope puts it out to the right, Delves plays it back into the middle, Harris latches onto it 25 yards out, going for goal puts the strike over the crossbar.
  GOAL! Have a goal shortly after working the ball up the left, Vine links with Wooley a throw is won inside the Harlow half taken quickly the ball is sent long into the area, again Delves has peeled off the defence and is in space, unmarked has time to get her foot over the ball and lash it home 4-3. 10 minutes left to play still very much game on.
  Great piece of skill shown by Stephens once again to control the all as it is flighted up to her inside the area left side from a free kick in front of the centre circle, bringing the ball down, and turning inside past her marker in one move, screws her shot away from goal. 
  GOAL! 40 minutes of the 2nd half played and Harlow extend the lead, Runwell are looking for an opening up the other end the ball is won back by Harlow, fed through the middle with urgency comes all the way up to McInerney 20 yards out getting hold of the ball, Stephens is up with her makes the run to get into the area right side this time, McInerney rolls the ball into her run, Stephens powers her shot high past the keeper and into the back of the net 5-3. 
  More chances for Harlow later on Dye and Chloe Ring onto the pitch, Hill and Bensted off. Harlow keep attacking late on the game moving into injury time McInerney stealing into the box longing to get onto the end of a long high ball gets to it just before the advancing Johnson, but lifts her attempted lob high and wide. Dye fires a ball from wide in towards goal Johnson pushes it wide. Runwell can’t get hold of the ball in the closing minutes Harlow defend a free kick put up to the edge of their area, Dye has a shot 25 yards out central looking to curl it into the top corner places it too close to Johnson. The final whistle blows and Harlow Ladies celebrate.
Harlow Town Ladies celebrate at the final whistle
  Harlow Ladies win the Essex Women’s League Cup beating Runwell Hospital Ladies 5-3 and complete an incredible quadruple in just their 1st season. Created far more goal scoring opportunities in the game had the lead 2nd half were never assured of victory right till the end Runwell Hospital Ladies always looking a threat when they did get forwards just didn’t do it enough. A good final to watch my 5th League Cup across the Eastern Counties have all been good adverts for women’s football, one more to look forwards too.
Harlow Ladies, Essex Women’s League Cup Winners
Congratulations to Harlow Ladies on winning the Essex Women’s League Cup and on doing the quadruple. For a few in the Harlow Ladies side this is their final game for the club for now as they move onto university a great way to end a season. Thanks to both sides for their help with the teams today and the staff from both the Essex FA and Herongate Athletic FC for their help too.