Captain Carla Ward netted a hat-trick as Sheffield FC Ladies eased past Cardiff City in The FA Women’s Premier League Cup Final to clinch a League and Cup double.
The Sheffield skipper fired her side into a two-goal lead but Beth Lloyd pulled a goal back for the Welsh club. Suzanne Davis made it 3-1 before the break and Jodie Michalska and Lisa Giampala scored either side of Ward’s treble to increase the advantage.
Lauren Townsend reduced arrears late on from the penalty spot but Helen Mitchell’s side did not have long to wait before they could celebrate their first-ever success in this competition, adding to the Northern Division title they reclaimed in April.
Cardiff City 2-6 Sheffield
FA Women's Premier League Cup
Sunday 4 May
Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
Sheffield were on top in the opening exchanges and Cardiff were indebted to their captain, Kayleigh Green, for a last-ditch slide tackle inside the area that denied Ward a clean strike at goal in just the fourth minute of the game.
Moments later, City goalkeeper Sophie Dando got down smartly to her right to gather Michalska’s low, 20-yard effort as the world’s oldest club sought an early advantage.
They were, quite literally, given a helping hand in that regard by Louise Hutton who was a touch overzealous in her attempt to block Ellie Gilliatt’s cross from the left. The full-back’s whipped ball in cannoned off Hutton’s outstretched arms and referee Sian Piret had no option but to point to the spot.
Dando parried Ward’s spot-kick, but the skipper reacted quickest and dinked the loose ball home.
Cardiff gradually grew into the game and enjoyed a prolonged spell of possession midway through the first half. They almost found a spectacular equaliser through Kelly Aldridge, who cut in from the right and unleashed a ferocious left-foot effort which Wallhead did well to tip onto the bar.
Sheffield shook off that scare and doubled their lead shortly after when a mix-up in the Cardiff backline that led to Cori Williams requiring treatment was further punished by Ward, who coolly despatched the loose ball past Dando.
If that Cardiff lapse was generous, Wallhead returned the favour on 41 minutes. The goalkeeper dawdled on a back pass and Lloyd nipped in to steal the ball and roll it into the empty net.
But Sheffield restored their two-goal lead on the stroke of half-time as Davis ghosted in at the back stick to poke home a right-sided cross.
The result was effectively put beyond doubt just six minutes after the restart when Michalska arrived at the near post to plunder home Gilliatt’s teasing centre.
The fourth goal left Jamie Sherwood’s charges deflated and they found it difficult to get a foothold in proceedings thereafter.
Sheffield continued to push for more goals and Natasha Cooke saw her header, from Ward’s corner, cleared off the line just after the hour mark.
Substitute Isabella Hayes almost made an immediate impact when she met Giampala’s deep cross with a firm header but Dando was on-hand to avert the danger.
However, two goals in a minute put a fine gloss on the scoreline for Sheffield. Ward completed her hat-trick by nodding home Giampala’s ball into the box.
Giampala then went from provider to goalscorer by nipping in to beat to Dando to a back pass, rounding the stranded keeper and tapping home for 6-1.
There was still time for Townsend to convert an 87th-minute penalty, but the Sheffield champagne had long been on ice.
Cardiff City Ladies
1 Sophie Dando, 2 Nicola Cousins, 3 Lauren Townsend, 4 Cori Williams, 5 Louise Hutton, 6 Kayleigh Green (C), 7 Kelly Aldridge, 8 Michelle Green, 9 Beth Lloyd, 10 Kelly Isaac, 11 Naomi Clipston
Substitutes: 17 Zoe Atkins for Williams (63), 14 Hannah Mills for Hutton (71), 12 Hannah Daley for Isaac (80)
Substitutes not used: 15 Annie Pritchard, 16 Steph Williams
Goals: Lloyd (41), Townsend (pen 87)
Manager: Jamie Sherwood
Sheffield FC Ladies
1 Claire Wallhead, 2 Kirsty Richardson, 3 Natasha Cooke, 4 Rebecca Lee, 7 Ellie Gilliatt, 9 Lisa Giampala, 10 Carla Ward (C), 11 Kerry Parkin, 15 Lynn Goodman, 16 Suzanne Davies, 19 Jodie Michalska
Substitutes: 18 Isabella Hayes for Lee (68), 14 Leanne De Silva for Michalska (73), 8 Aimee Johnson for Gilliatt (80)
Substitutes not used: 6 Catherine Lawson, 12 Olivia Foxton
Goals: Ward (pen 12, 34, 74), Davis (45), Michalska (51), Giampala (75)
Manager: Helen Mitchell
Referee: Sian Piret