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Women's Football News
Christmas came early for Colchester United as there was double cause for celebration for the club's female side.
First they were presented with a cheque for £5,000 from this year's FA Community Shield fund and then they landed a cracking F.A.Women's Cup Fourth Round tie against Arsenal after beating Enfield Town 1-0.
First team Coach Steve Bartlett and first team captain Helen Bass were in attendance at the Colchester United's men's game against Scunthorpe United to receive the cheque from defender Matt Lockwood. The £5,000 windfall is Colchester United's share of the overall FA Community Shield fund and the ladies team are this year's beneficiaries.
"Colchester United LFC would like to thank the U's for their continued support," Ladies manager Dmitri Halajko said. "Both the past chief executive Marie Partner and the present Steve Bradshaw have always helped out in pushing the Ladies club forward whenever they can.
"Our Ladies club actually plays a higher standard of football (male or female) then any other football team in Essex. However it still relies on subscriptions and registration fees from the players, local sponsorship such as PMS (Terry Sutton) and Mann Group (John Southgate) and a dedicated group of volunteers to run the club. Therefore this money is much needed to try and sustain our place in the FA Premier League Southern Division.
"With away trips to Newquay, Bath and Bristol, the commitment the players show for no financial gain is outstanding. We have one of the small budgets in our league and this money will make a huge difference to the club."
With the cheque safely banked, the U's Ladies then had to focus on match action on the Sunday afternoon with a crunch FA Cup clash against Enfield on the agenda. The winners knew that a glamour tie against Arsenal awaited and one goal was enough to separate the two teams.
The U's Ladies fielded a side bolstered by the return of Toni Smith, Kayley Morgan and Cerri Hughes. The confidence of a good display against Cardiff City the previous week was still fresh in their minds and it was Colchester who started the brighter, taking the game to the home side with strong runs from winger Kat Parnell causing Enfield 's defence problems from the outset.
Colchester had the better of the first half, going close on several occasions. Enfield were confined to breaks against the play but at half time though it was still goalless. The second half ran to much the same pattern with Colchester taking up much of the possession and having the most attempts on goal.
Free kicks by Laura Guyon and Kate Longhurst narrowly missed opening the score, but it was substitute Helen Bass who helped gain the breakthrough. A strong run down the right by the U's top scorer was followed by an unselfish cross ball into the path of an intelligent and perfectly timed run by Longhurst who struck home without breaking stride.
Colchester held the lead for the remainder of the half and looked comfortable until the final ten minutes when Enfield began to pressure them at the back. Goalkeeper Nikkitta Runnacles was forced to make a save when one on one and then a last gasp strike by Enfield was scrambled off the Colchester line after which the referee blew for full time. It was a well deserved win for the young Colchester side who will reap their reward at Arsenal's Boreham Wood ground on January 4th.
After the game, Colchester manager Dmitri Halajko said: "We have worked hard for this result both in training and during the games leading up to this one. All my players deserve the chance to play Arsenal and we look forward to that fixture with relish."
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