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A first half hat-trick from hot-shot striker Samantha Pittuck sent West Ham United on their way to a convincing 9-0 victory over Colchester United to lift their maiden Essex County Women's Cup crown at Maldon Town's Wallace Binder Ground.
Hammers boss Tony Marshall was delighted with his team's haul as they clinched the title in style, claiming: "We were really well prepared for this final and we played well with some experienced players in the side. We have used a few of the earlier games to blood some youngsters, including a number of 16-year-olds, but it was virtually full-strength today and I'm pleased with the performance."
West Ham grabbed the ascendancy as early as the tenth minute and never looked back. Colchester 'keeper Louise Allwood bravely slid out to block at the feet of Pittuck but the ball dropped kindly for Tracey Duxbury to finish into an unguarded net. Carly Roache chipped inches wide of the post moments later before the lead was doubled on 18 minutes. Jess Barling cut a ball back for Duxbury again whose drive was pushed up by the gloves of Allwood before she was unable to scramble the looping ball out of the goal.
Pittuck opened her account for the afternoon three minutes later, firing home from an acute angle via the post having taken the ball around Allwood. Pittuck then doubled her tally in impressive fashion on 31 minutes, curling an 18-yard effort into the roof of the net following an assist by Lindsey Morgan. Four minutes later the Hammers went nap when Zoe Marshall hit a low 15-yard effort into the bottom left hand corner after Colchester had failed to clear Barling's corner.
A minute before the interval, Pittuck completed her hat-trick with a well-placed dipping header over Allwood following a teasing Barling centre. Then Colchester feared a further rout as West Ham grabbed their seventh goal just two minutes after the restart, Gemma Shepherd steering the ball home from five yards after a frantic scramble in the box.
The U's pulled out all the stops to minimise further damage though, and the Hammers didn't break through again until 20 minutes from time. Shepherd, Clare Rogers, Pittuck and Morgan had all squandered opportunities before substitute Rogers grabbed the eight, stabbing home from close range after good work involving herself and Pittuck inside the box. West Ham's scoring was completed on 83 minutes as Julia Setford, also off the bench, finished at the second attempt after Allwood had initially blocked following a searching through ball.
At full time, a proud Marshall continued: "I must offer full praise to Colchester as they were always on the back foot but continued to battle hard. We passed the ball well today but maybe we did take our eye off it a little after we went so far ahead just after half time. It's been an enjoyable day too and that's what we wanted. Tomorrow night the girls will parade the trophy around Upton Park live on Setanta Sports which will be excellent! The club have been really supportive and we're part of them now."
Colchester United: Louise Allwood, Jacqueline Ball (sub Ella Chapman 53mins), Kerry Jacks, Amy Bryant, Hayley Spallin, Sinead Redford (sub Jo Dunne 75mins), Lily Mellors, Charlotte Twydell, Alice Nutman, Katherine Hyndman, Fran Swales. Subs not used: Charlotte O'Malley, Claire Capon, Jen Smith.
West Ham United: Paris Smith, Rosey Sullivan (sub Natalie Grafton 53mins), Jess Barling, Kate Holmes, Carly Roache (sub Julia Setford 62mins), Jade Dempster, Gemma Shepherd, Lindsey Morgan (sub Clare Rogers 53mins), Zoe Marshall, Samantha Pittuck, Tracey Duxbury.
(Report by Mark Wallis)
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