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Panthers won the inaugural London FA Junior Cup by defeating Newham 3-0 in the Final at Beckenham on Sunday morning.
The two teams are leaders in their respective leagues with only one defeat apiece all season but Panthers, of the London & South East Regional League, play at a higher level than Newham of the Greater London League Division Two South, so the hierarchy was respected on the day.
Both teams played very well on the day with a number of players giving outstanding performances in an entertaining final marred only by an unfortunate injury to Kelly McHugh of Panthers near the end, who needed an ambulance after a fall where she seemed to damage her neck.
Panthers roared into life straight from the whistle, creating a series of early chances. Sophie Tattersall sent a shot just over the bar after five minutes and Clara Cardoso was inches wide two minutes later. A superb save from Michelle Myers denied Kelly Barton's precise drive towards the bottom corner as Panthers continued to dominate, with Tattersall also heading just wide on 21 minutes.
The same player gave Panthers a deserved lead on 24 minutes, stabbing home from close in after a flicked on cross and she doubled the advantage after a clever through pass from Cardoso three minutes later.
Newham nearly reduced the lead straight away as ex-Crystal Palace forward Corinne Covington headed just wide but the multi-national Panthers, who play their home matches at Powerleague in Norbury, were well in control in the first half.
Newham started the second half with real purpose and started to put Brazilian-born goalkeeper Andressa Silva and her defence under pressure with Kerry Anne Stimson and Covington both going close to reducing the deficit. The closest they came was on 71 minutes when Stimson hit the post with a powerful drive but it was Panthers who sealed the tie on 79 minutes.
After Kerry Henry had saved Newham with a fine goal line clearance, it was a Barton corner which went straight in despite a brave effort from Tanya Birt to keep the ball out, which led to her leaving the field with an injury.
Player of the match for Panthers was Mary Dawson whose pace and stamina up and down the right wing was outstanding all game and she nearly crowned her performance with a goal but was denied by another fine save. After a long delay for treatment, the injured McHugh was able to walk gingerly from the field to the waiting ambulance and Panthers saw out the final minutes comfortably to claim the Cup and open the champagne.
Panthers: Andressa Silva, Erika Andersson, Nicky Binder, Emma Bownes, Eloise Young, Kelly McHugh, Clara Cardoso, Kelly Barton, Karen O'Neill, Mary Dawson, Sophie Tattersall. Subs: Sian Smith, Karen Leite, Mary Richards, Louise Stirling, Tara O'Grady.
Newham: Michelle Myers, Holly Wenbourne, Kerry Henry, Laina Wilson, Corinne Covington, Julie Eke, Karen Livingstone, Tanya Birt, Laura Bryant, Kerry-Anne Stimson, Jhodie Hard. Subs: Kara Clare, Karen Bradley, Laura O'Donnell, Andree Selner Kaina Smalling, Zoe Qureshi.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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