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Women's Football News
Everton 1 (Williams 49) Leeds Carnegie 3 (Holtham 15, White 20,85)
att: 2,847; at Rochdale F.C.
Leeds Carnegie won their first major trophy in what could be their last season as they produced a fine team display to deservedly beat favourites Everton at Spotland.
Two early goals provided the platform for the victory but a solid second half defensive performance, in which captain Sophie Bradley excelled, withstood a spell of Everton pressure before the match was settled by a late Ellen White strike.
The pitch at Rochdale was icy and slippery in places but playable and Leeds were the quicker side to adapt to the conditions. Although Everton did produce the first effort on goal when Michelle Hinnigan shot wide, Leeds passed up a good chance to go in front. Emily Westwood's slip allowed Sue Smith down the left and her cross picked out an unmarked White who headed wide.
However on the quarter hour, Leeds opened the scoring as White's drive rebounded off Lindsay Johnson and into the path of Katie Holtham who drilled her shot home from 20 yards.
Five minutes later and Leeds were further ahead, Rachel Brown failed to hold on to a Carla Cantrell corner and White pounced to force the ball home from close range.
It could have been three as Leeds claimed the ball had crossed the line during a goalmouth scramble following a corner but the whistle blew for a foul on Brown. Jade Moore then went close, drilling a shot over the bar following good work from Carla Cantrell and Jess Clarke.
In contrast, Everton had produced little in the way of chances in what for them was a disappointing first half, the best of which came in first half injury time when awarded a free kick on the edge of the area but Fara Williams lifted her shot over the bar.
Everton needed an early strike after the break to get themselves back into the game and it came their way, despite Leeds making a good start. A Smith free kick was cleared and Natasha Dowie latched on to the loose ball, shrugging off a challenge before sliding an inch perfect pass into the path of Williams who steered her shot past the oncoming Telford and into the net.
Holtham hooked a shot just over the bar on the turn as Leeds sought a quick reply but Everton were starting to have the greater of possession and territory at this stage. Williams sent another free kick off target and the midfielder was unlucky with a lobbed effort from the edge of the area after Rachel Unitt had laid the ball into her path.
Toni Duggan sent in a dangerous far post cross which Jody Handley got to first but her volley brought out a fine block from Telford and the danger was averted.
Leeds found themselves under pressure for the first time in the match but their back four, led by the impressive pairing of Bradley and Laura Bassett, ensured there were few chances on offer. Full backs Sophie Walton and Mel Sutcliffe also kept things tight whilst Holtham and Moore - who had a great match - snapped into tackles in midfield.
Everton piled forward in search of an equaliser but were hit by a classic sucker punch with five minutes remaining. Walton made two important clearing headers from a Williams corner and Leeds broke away through Holtham down the left, her through ball picked out White who had timed her run to perfection and raced through on goal, holding off a challenge from Gwennan Harries before clinically burying her shot into the far corner.
The game was up for Everton and Leeds were able to see out the game for the result that their performance had merited.
Everton: Rachel Brown, Emily Westwood, Rachel Unitt, Fara Williams, Fern Whelan, Lindsay Johnson, Jody Handley, Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie, Michelle Hinnigan (sub Gwennan Harries 78mins), Toni Duggan. Subs: Becky Easton, Michelle Evans, Alex Culvin, Brooke Chaplen.
Leeds Carnegie: Carly Telford, Sophie Walton, Melissa Sutcliffe, Laura Bassett, Sophie Bradley, Jade Moore, Jess Clarke (sub Remi Allen 71mins), Katie Holtham, Carla Cantrell, Ellen White, Sue Smith (sub Olivia Thackray 87mins). Subs: Gemma Bonner, Natalie Staneff, Rachel Daly.
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