Ladies enjoy a winning end to the seasonCarlisle United Ladies enjoyed a winning end to the season with victory in the Cumberland FA Women’s County Cup Final completing a run of eight consecutive victories which saw Tracy Gannon’s side seal fourth in the final league table.
The Lady Cumbrians lifted the Women’s County Cup for the second time in three seasons with victory over Penrith AFC Ladies at Workington’s Borough Park earlier this month. Clare Almond hit home an 87th minute winner for United as part of a comprehensive performance.
United started the game brightly with the first chance falling to Gillian McGimpsey, who fizzed the ball just wide of the mark on seven minutes. The best chance of the half was enjoyed by Imogen Longcake in the 19th minute as the prolific striker ran through on goal only to see her effort pouched by Penrith ‘keeper Michelle Jones.
Lauren Ullyart’s effort from range found its way the wrong side of the left-hand post three minutes later and United were inches from the lead on the half hour mark with Gillian McGimpsey unable to direct Stacey Harkness’s well-taken corner, the ball just creeping wide of the far post.
With United enjoying much the better of possession and pressing high, Manager Tracy Gannon made her first roll of the dice on 34 minutes, taking advantage of the competition’s rolling substitutions to introduce Philippa Harmison and Clare Almond for Harkness and McGimpsey. The change ensured United maintained a high tempo but the breakthrough remained elusive taking the sides in level at the interval.
Penrith started strongly in the second half as they looked to gain a foothold in the game but United ‘keeper Charlotte Cousin was more than equal to their efforts, most notably with an excellent diving stop to a 50th minute free kick.
Gannon continued to rotate her squad to ensure United remained fresh with Amy Hunter, Cally Martin and Chelsea Nevison all introduced to the action over the opening 20 minutes of the half as the momentum began to ebb between the sides.
United still posed much the greatest attacking threat, however, seeing a series of efforts blocked by the steadfast opposing defence. Penrith’s own brief period in the ascendancy saw them fashion what looked to be the closest to a winner as the United defence were forced to clear the ball off their goal line on 81 minutes, but this served to galvanise Gannon’s side for the final minutes.
The reintroduction of Longcake and Ullyart freshened United and both Almond and Harmison warmed Jones’ gloves as the game entered the final five minutes with the deadlock yet to be broken.
The winner was not far away, however, as Ciara Bland advanced down the left on 87 minutes before whipping an excellent cross into the Penrith box. The ball made its way through to Almond who rifled into the bottom corner before wheeling away to celebrate with her jubilant team mates.
United Ladies Captain Sharina Robinson was named Player of the Match at the final whistle for her strong performance in midfield.
Speaking after the game United Ladies Manager, Tracy Gannon, said: "I’m so proud of the girls tonight - they worked their socks off for each other. Every player in the squad did their bit when needed and more. Thank you for everyone who came and supported us and those that sent us good luck messages. Feeling very proud.”
Prior to the Final, United closed their league season with a pair of home games as they looked to snatch a fourth place finish in the final league table.
Having beaten Leigh RMI Ladies 4-2 on the road, United looked to make sure of their then fifth place in the return fixture. It was an excellent start at Creighton as McGimpsey turned home a parried Longcake effort in the 23rd minute to open the scoring and provider turned scorer on 36 minutes as Longcake rounded the ‘keeper to slot home.
The two goal advantage was maintained in the second half through an excellent diving save from Cousin before Martin delivered the coup de grace two minutes from time, firing home from the edge of the box as Bland picked up the Player of the Match award.
The Lady Cumbrians then welcomed Academy Juniors to close the season knowing that victory would see them climb to fourth in the final North West Womens Regional League Division One North table. Ullyart opened the scoring in the first half and quickly added her second to ensure United would once again go in two to the good at the interval.
Player of the Match McGimpsey made sure of the points with a four goal salvo early in the second half leaving Martin to complete the scoring and add the seventh as the clock wound down.
United Ladies return to action for the new season in September, but there is no shortage of action in the meantime with the Club’s Development squad in Cumberland FA Women’s League action throughout the summer. Paul Brotherhood’s side most recently enjoyed back-to-back wins with Faye Comber scoring a hat-trick supported by a Bea Barber goal in a four one win at Seaton Ladies whilst Barber and Ellie Weber were on target in a two one win at Kendal Town Ladies Development.
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