Barnet beat Forest on penalties to win Premier League Cup.
Barnet 0-0 AET Nottingham Forest (Barnet win 4-3 on penalties)
The FA Women’s Premier League Cup
7.30pm, Thursday 24 March 2011
Adams Park, Wycombe Wanderers FC
Sally Wade netted the winning spot-kick as ten-player Barnet won The FA Women’s Premier League Cup, beating Nottingham Forest 4-3 on penalties in The Final.
A game of few chances finished 0-0 after extra-time, but Wade stepped up and slotted her penalty beyond Claire Wallhead’s clutches and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to spark scenes of joy among her team-mates and the sizeable Barnet-support behind the designated goal.
Barnet, who had Stacey Sowden dismissed for a foul on Carla Tomkins, won this competition as ‘Wembley’ in 1996 but tonight’s triumph represents their first Premier League Cup success under their current guise. It also gives them a timely boost ahead of their FA Women’s Cup quarter final tie against West Ham on Sunday and their fight to stave off relegation from the League.
Both sides were appearing in their first Premier League Cup Final and it was Barnet who settled much better on the slick Adams Park surface. The opening chance of the game fell to their No.9 Sowden, in search of her 200th Bees goal, but she prodded Danielle Murphy’s lobbed through ball just wide.
The Bees dominated the opening period in terms of possession but were made to wait until the 17th minute for their next sight at goal when Eartha Pond fired high and wide. Barnet’s England youngster Abbie Prosser then skewed her shot off target after Forest failed to clear Murphy’s corner.
Danny Johnson’s side gradually stirred themselves from their Cup Final slumber and Catherine Lawson tested Cherie Rowlands with an in-swinging free-kick. The respite was only temporary, though, as Sowden raced on to a ball played down the left channel, cut inside onto her right foot and tried her luck from the corner of the box, but Claire Wallhead held well.
By now Forest were enjoying more of the ball but, as is to be expected in any Cup Final, clear-cut chances were at a premium.
However, by far the best opportunity of the first half came just before the whistle and it fell to Forest forward Natalie Clarke. Andrea Bell raided down the right magnificently, skipped past Sally Wade on the by-line and pulled the ball back to the unmarked Clarke, but her eight-yard shot was blocked brilliantly by the feet of the sprawling Rowlands.
It was then Barnet’s turn to miss a gilt-edged chance in the opening moments of the second half after Murphy’s low, rasping free-kick was saved by Wallhead. The rebound fell to Sowden who could only poke wide with the goal seemingly at her mercy.
On 52 minutes, Rachael Murray thought she had put Forest ahead with a well-weighted 35-yard chip. The ball hit the bar, bounced down and hit Rowlands on the back, but somehow spun away from the line and hit the upright, much to the relief of everyone in amber and black.
The framework was hit again, this time by Gemma Rudman with a powerful header from the edge of the box, and just moments later Barnet were reduced to ten players when Sowden received a straight red card for a challenge on Tomkins.
The east Midlanders had wrestled the momentum from their opponents even before the sending off but once Sowden had vacated the pitch, Forest attempted in vain to make their numerical superiority count as they searched for the winner in the final 15 minutes.
With just one minute left on the clock, Andrea Bell slung a cross into the box which evaded everyone except Suzanne Davies who was coming in at the far post. However, the winger took one too many touches, by which time Jade Dempster had narrowed the angle and Davies sliced wide.
Extra-time only yielded two real efforts and it was the ten players who almost defied the odds just seconds after the restart when Murphy’s corner caused a mini scramble, though Wallhead foiled Jess Trimnell on the line. The other was a fierce, angled drive from Dempster in the second period. It looked forever like it was in, but the ball just zipped past the post.
Both sides missed spot-kicks in the shoot-out, but Prosser, Vicky Boardman, Trimnell and, crucially, Wade all netted their penalties for the Bees and it was the winning captain Murphy, who had missed her own penalty, who lifted The Cup.
1 Cherie Rowlands, 2 Jade Dempster, 3 Sally Wade, 4 Abbie Prosser, 5 Leanne Reidy (17 Katie O’Leary, 120), 6 Gemma Rudman, 8 Danielle Murphy (C), 9 Stacey Sowden, 10 Jess Trimnell, 14 Vicky Boardman, 19 Eartha Pond (16 Zoe Lance, 77)
Substitutes not used 11 Emma Davies, 12 Davina Smith, 15 Alex Keown
Manager Tracey Kevins
1 Claire Wallhead, 3 Ellie Gilliatt, 4 Carla Tomkins, 5 Beth Bailey (C), 7 Andrea Bell, 8 Jemma Connor-Iommi, 9 Catherine Lawson, 10 Natalie Clarke, 11 Suzanne Davies (15 Abbie Hinton, 116), 12 Catherine Stainthorpe (2 Lauren Howard, 83), 18 Rachael Murray (19 Katie Waddell, 61)
Substitutes not used 16 Eleanor Clarke, 21 Mary Earps
Manager Danny Johnson