The FA Women's Premier League Cup
Charlton still on course for treble
Charlton Athletic 1-0 Fulham
The FA Nationwide Women's Premier League Cup
Sunday 28 March 2004
Substitute Emma Coss was the unlikely goal heroine as Charlton collected the first major trophy in their history to keep themselves on track for the treble of FA Women's Premier League, FA Women's Cup and FA Women's Premier League Cup.
Central defender Coss had been on the pitch only two minutes when she headed in what proved to be the match winner with her first goal of the season eleven minutes before the interval.
"I’m overwhelmed," said Coss, whose former side Arsenal and Fulham are the only two clubs to have so far achieved the treble. "It’s not nice, having to start a final on the subs’ bench," she added, "but to come on a score was a dream come true.
"It was a good time to score, shortly before half-time, and although we were under pressure in the second half I felt we contained Fulham well and our fitness told in the closing stages.
"Now we’d love to go on and win the treble and that’s been in the back of our minds, but we were totally focused on today’s game and we know we have to win every game we’ve got left to get the treble."
Coss scored the only goal of a hard fought final with what was Charlton’s first scoring attempt after Fulham had enjoyed most of the early possession and both Katie Chapman and Sanchia Duncan had narrowly missed the target.
After replacing injured captain Casey Stoney in the 32nd minute, Coss went up for an Eartha Pond corner and powered in a far post header to break the deadlock.
Fulham regained control after the interval but despite creating several openings they could not force an equaliser, Charlton keeper Pauline Cope saving from Rachel Yankey and Rachel McArthur as the Cottagers pressed for a goal.
The Addicks might have wrapped up victory in the closing stages, Carmaine Walker hitting the bar then her fellow striker Ann-Marie Heatherson wasting a good opportunity, but in the end Coss’ goal proved enough to win the Cup.
Charlton’s victory saw them complete a notable hat-trick over last season’s treble winners, who they have now beaten in their last three meetings – firstly in the FA Women's Cup, then in the Premier League and now the Women's Premier League Cup.
They stand ahead of the Cottagers at the top of the FA Nationwide Women’s Premier League table, but the title is not yet assured and Fulham, said manager Marieanne Spacey, will do everything in their power to win the League for a second successive season.
"The girls are obviously very disappointed about losing the final" said Spacey, "especially as we played the better football and had more shots at goal.
"But I said in the build-up to the game that one chance could win the game and we had be the ones to take it – and unfortunately we lacked a cutting edge today.
"The players are hurt, but we’ve still got every chance of winning the League and I’ll be emphasising the fact that although today was a Cup Final, every game from now until the end of the season is going to be a cup final – and we’ve got to win them all!"
While Spacey and her players left Barnet’s Underhill stadium empty handed, Charlton were heading for a celebration before starting preparations for a three-match run-in to the end of the season that could end with a triple triumph.
Manager Keith Boanas said: "It’s phenomenal to have won our first trophy – I feel it’s reward for all the people at Charlton who’ve shown faith in women’s football since I joined the club in 1996.
"This is a great way to start paying them back, and it also takes a bit of pressure off us in terms of winning trophies – but we still want the League title, which would give us European football next season, and winning the FA Women's Cup would be the icing on the cake."
The Addicks have Arsenal standing in their way both in the League and FA Women's Cup Final, and the third in the table Gunners kept alive their hopes of snatching the League championship with a 2-1 home win against Birmingham City.
They had to come from behind, Vicky Gallagher giving the visitors a sixth minute lead, but an own goal – by Blues captain Laura Bassett – levelled the scores and Jayne Ludlow hit the Arsenal winner five minutes from time.