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Chelsea won the Surrey County Women's Cup on Thursday evening, defeating WFC Fulham 4-3 in a penalty shoot out, when the game had finished 1-1 after extra time.
Fulham had led from around the 40th minute but were hauled back with two minutes of normal time remaining. Having lost keeper Kelly Cooper, injured in trying to save Becky Jane's equaliser, Fulham protected stand-in replacement, midfielder Katie McIntyre, well enough to take the match to penalties. In fact, McIntyre made two excellent blocks in extra time and saved a penalty as well but Chelsea keeper Lily Phillips produced two spot kick saves of her own to clinch the Cup.
The match itself was a fascinating contest between the outstanding Chelsea reserve team which won their National Cup in March and a Fulham team which had battled well with little luck all season in the top division. Fulham took the lead through a superb finish by Emma Hayes after an outrageous bobble on a backpass led to a miskick by Phillips. Fulham nearly doubled their lead when a shot was cleared off the line and they had slightly the better of the first half.
Chelsea's youngsters always looked threatening though and Fulham duo Jess Trimnell and Leanne Reidy had to be at their best in central defence as the Blues pressed for the equaliser. Cooper made two fine stops late on and it seemed that Fulham would prevail despite having offered little threat throughout the second half. However, on 88 minutes another sweeping move finally unlocked the Fulham rearguard and Becky Jane drove the ball in from ten yards.
After a lengthy delay for the injury to Cooper, Chelsea nearly stole the winner but Sarah Kempson put a close range header wide. Chelsea dominated extra time but could not beat the stand-in keeper - however, despite McIntyre's efforts, it was the Blues who took the Cup for the third year in a row.
Both teams gave their all in a gruelling battle which kept a crowd of around 350 entertained to the end.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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