Football: Akehurst seals cup win for Tonbridge Angels Ladies

Football: Akehurst seals cup win for Tonbridge Angels Ladies

Tonbridge Angels Ladies 3 Thamesview 1

TONBRIDGE ANGELS Ladies were triumphant in their first ever cup final – in only their second season – despite having been taken to extra time by a late equaliser at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium.

They defeated the side who had pipped them to the title in Kent Division One of the South-East Counties Women’s Football League.

It was the Medway team who made the more positive start, with Angels keeper Sam Wright called into action after just two minutes when she raced off her line to smother a through ball, while captain Sharon Lyons showed her defensive prowess with an interception.

Somewhat against the run of play Angels took the lead in the seventh minute.

Centre-forward Becky Janes was body-checked on the edge of the area and Kelly Moran’s free kick was converted by Megan Akehurst past Thamesview goalkeeper Bronwyn Allen.

Thamesview piled on the pressure after that setback but Wright and her defenders held firm.

The Angels might have added to their lead just before half time when Akehurst fed Janes but the striker’s shot was saved by Allen.

The second period was a more even affair and on the hour-mark Janes was presented with a great opportunity to double the Angels’ lead but she fired her shot over the crossbar.

For all Thamesview’s efforts to restore parity it began to look as if one goal would be enough.

But in the 85th minute Thamesview drew level through Lucy Stillworth following an uncharacteristic mix-up in the Angels defence.

So the game moved to extra time but with the players tiring there were few clear-cut chances.

In the 108th minute, however, Akehurst squeezed the ball past a couple of Thamesview defenders to restore Tonbridge’s advantage.

Ten minutes later the Angels were awarded a penalty which Janes crashed against the crossbar, the ball flying away to safety.

She made amends with Thamesview out on their feet by firing the ball into the net to seal a famous victory and prompt wild celebrations.

In a contest between two evenly matched sides the crucial difference was a lack of substitutes for Thamesview as they tired towards the end.

Manager Dan Couldridge said: ‘I am enormously proud of the workrate the squad all put in on the night to achieve this success.

‘Thamesview with their vast experience were always going to have the edge on us technically, but one thing my team have in spades is heart.

‘After being taken to extra time there was absolutely no way they weren’t going to end the night, and the season, empty-handed.

‘We are now looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead next season.’

PICTURE: TOP TEAM:(Back row, l-r) Lauryn Underhill, Helena Fothergill, Nancy Syrett, Sam Wright, Courtney Smith, Jodie Coombes, Rob Mardell, Dan Couldridge, Reece Catt; (front row) Megan Akehurst, Becky Janes, Leanne Foster, Maisie Gibb, Alex Weston (at front), Flo Anastasiou, Kelly Moran, Sharon Lyons (captain), Becky Jarvis, Charlotte Coulter. PHOTO: David Couldridge

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