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Queen's Park Rangers won the Middlesex FA Senior Cup at Ashford on Wednesday by beating Barnet 3-1 in a dramatic Final.
Rangers, in mid-table in their first season back in the Premier League Southern Division, deservedly lifted the trophy against the league leaders, despite having to ride their luck at times. Two goals from Rebecca Kane and a Charlotte Young penalty were enough to see off the Bees who had equalised through Holly Sandow.
Barnet created the first chance after four minutes when Stacey Sowden shot wide from ten yards. Beth Curtis had Rangers' first effort a minute later but it was straight at Cherie Rowlands. Kane showed her ability to worry the Barnet defence with a dangerous cross on ten minutes and it was her persistence which led to the opening goal, capitalising on a defensive mix-up to calmly score from a narrow angle on 16 minutes.
Barnet were stung into action and Sandow was sent clear on the right and lobbed the advancing Emily Bourne from 20 yards on 26 minutes to equalise. The Bees dominated the rest of the first half but the Rangers defence stood firm and they always carried a threat on the break. One such move saw a left wing cross which Rowlands was unable to claim and Kane again was on hand to finish. The Bees came very close to an equaliser right on half time with a shot against the underside of the bar but Rangers escaped with their lead intact.
Barnet continued to dominate possession after the break with Kate Holmes and Danielle Murphy prompting and Sandow prominent on the right of the attack but the final ball was never able to break down the Rangers defence. The outcome was settled by a tale of two penalties, one given to Rangers for a foul on Kane and scored by Young on 73 minutes and one denied to Barnet when a cross was blocked, which might have allowed them a way back.
As it was, for all the pressure, few clear opportunities came the way of the holders as the minutes ticked by. Rangers defended heroically and played their way calmly out of defence with Young, Curtis and the Player of the Match award recipient Shannon Moloney always seeking to set Kane free in behind the Bees defence.
Rangers, overcoming the loss of leading scorer Cherelle Albert to Chelsea, had shown good organisation and had matched Barnet in determination and work rate. They took their chances well and had the little bit of luck which most winners get at some stage. Barnet will now have to try to gain the biggest prize of all, the league title, over the next few weeks to go with their fine FA Women's Cup exploits in which they reached the semi finals.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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