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Colchester Utd boss Lee Pope beamed: "I'm really proud of what we have achieved this season," after the U's sealed their first ever Essex County Women's Cup triumph as a gallant Chelmsford City side were beaten 4-2 on penalties, after a 2-2 draw in the Final at Wivenhoe Town.
After a tense affair at Broad Lane, Pope continued: "Chelmsford gave us a very tough game and we must give them a lot of credit as they worked so hard. I believe Chelmsford have beaten us twice in the Final before so it was third time lucky for us. It was a great achievement, most of our girls are youngsters in the Academy and the County Cup has been a terrific experience for them as well as enjoying their first season in the Premier League."
An entertaining affair saw Colchester create the early openings and, with just three minutes on the clock, Charlotte Twydell nodded Hayley Spallin's centre over the top and moments later Paige Chappell sent a low 20-yard volley wide of the post.
The U's took the lead on 28 minutes, Chappell's swinging corner dropping straight in the net just inside the near post. Then Chelmsford's Kerri Binks was required to clear off the line after Chappell had pounced on a mistake by City 'keeper Leanne Topper, but on the stroke of half time the Clarets were level. A great move saw Laura Brown stab home an Emma Ridings centre from close range.
It was Colchester who made the early running after the interval. Twydell saw a 20-yard shot drop just wide and Laura Kendle had to clear City's lines after Topper parried Sinead Redford's low drive.
Chelmsford came close when Amy Vernon's lob was well held by Louise Allwood but, with 88 minutes on the clock, Colchester looked to have won the tie when they took the lead for the second time with substitute Katrina Duncan-Marshelleck swinging in a free kick which was powerfully headed home by Chappell, netting her second of the afternoon.
However, Chelmsford were not to be denied. Binks had already seen a dipping lob bounce off the top of the bar before, six minutes into stoppage time, she hit an unstoppable free kick into the top corner from 25 yards to take the tie into a further thirty minutes.
Extra time was a little more uneventful as both sides began to tire, but Chelmsford goalkeeper Topper made an impressive double save to deny Chappell and Twydell before also pushing Chappell's low shot around the post as the U's playmaker searched for her hat-trick.
With just a minute of extra time remaining, Duncan-Marshelleck turned and fired wide from the edge of the area, but it wasn't enough to prevent the final being decided by a penalty shootout.
Colchester 'keeper Louise Allwood saved City's first penalty from Helen Alder and Binks hit City's fourth kick over the top, leaving Twydell the chance to smash the U's fourth spot-kick past Topper and seal her side's victory.
Chelmsford City: Leanne Topper, Kerri Binks, Zoe Taylor, Laura Kendle (sub Helen Alder 75mins), Amy Vernon, Emma Wells, Sharon Brownlie (sub Lucy Garrett 90mins), Michelle Davis, Jasmine Wheeler, Emma Ridings, Laura Brown (sub Natalie Madlin 90mins). Subs not used: Elizabeth Marshall, Sarah Jolly.
Colchester United: Louise Allwood, Hayley Spallin, Kerry Jacks, Jamie Newstead (sub Carmen Joyce 63mins), Laura Rhodes, Jane Swift, Paige Chappell, Charlotte Twydell, Francesca Swales, Sinead Redford (sub Kate Longhurst 76mins), Catherine Hydneman (sub Katrina Duncan-Marshelleck 75mins). Subs not used: Jo Dunne, Rosee Golding.
Photo - www.essexsportsagency.com.
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