Crystal Palace overcome a second half scare to win U16 Girls Cup Final
Crystal Palace U16 Development Girls became our second County Cup winners on Sunday afternoon, as they saw off a second half scare from Ascot United Diamonds to secure the cup.
The second game of our double-header of County Cup Finals on Sunday 6th March set up to be an entertaining watch, as Ascot United Girls Under 16 Diamonds took on a resilient Crystal Palace side.
The game started off strong, with both sides showing great determination in the opening minutes. Palace keeper Alexa Uttridge was tested early on by Ascot United Diamonds, but showed to be a commanding presence in the box.
As Palace looked to get a foothold in the game, early chances presented themselves through Jada Peake and Asheya Patrick linking up well. Ascot’s defence was tested, but they held firm, with Palace shooting high and wide.
Possession was balanced across both teams, but further into the half Crystal Palace started to increase the pressure on Ascot. The breakthrough came when Bethany Kaluya pounced on a loose ball at the halfway line, playing in Habeebat Gbajabiamila down the right-hand side who then found Jada Peake in the box to slot home. Despite increasing pressure from Diamonds, Palace managed to go into the interval with a valuable 1-0 lead.
The first period of the second half was an even contest as both teams defended well. Palace came close to doubling their lead when Bethany Kaluya narrowly missed connecting with a corner whipped across the box.
Palace did eventually grab their chance after collecting the ball in the Diamonds half, with Amelia Ajao cleverly picking out Habbebat Gbajabiamila, who returned the ball with her second assist of the game, as Ajao expertly finished to make the score 2-0.
The game was far from over, as Ascot United rallied to find themselves moving further into the Palace half, with Amelia Kimble's quick feet winning them a free-kick near the edge of the Palace box. Poppy Airey stepped up to take the set piece, her curling shot proving to be tricky for Palace keeper Alexa Uttridge, who could only parry the ball into the path of Keira Lourdes who made no mistake in driving into the back of the net and grabbing a vital goal for Diamonds.
The goal was a boost for Ascot as they continued to push into the Palace half in search of an equalizer and the once dominant Palace became slightly shaken, with the tie now in the balance.
However, any hope Ascot United had was quickly extinguished as, after knocking the ball up field, Palace were able to capitalise on a mistake at the back, with Amelia Ajao grabbing a brace as she picked up the ball on the edge of the box, firing a shot directly at Diamonds keeper Lily Patient who was unfortunate to miss control the ball into her own net.
Palace had the chance to further increase their lead, but a fantastic save from Lily Patient tipped the ball over the bar for a corner. Ascot Diamonds worked hard to stay in the game, but Palace held firm to see out the final as winners.
Referee: David Solly
Assistant Referee 1: Andy Webb
Assistant Referee 2: Eros Frangiamore
Fourth Official: Anthony Green
Ascot United Diamonds:
Lily Patient, Ruby Vines, Poppy Airey, Martha Childs, Chloe Connor (C), Kate Fox, Teya Uppal, Dalia Fraga, Olivia McGrath, Ailsa Sheppard, Keira Lourdes, Amelia Kimble, Leah Miles, Annabelle Gray, Mya Bowler
Crystal Palace Girls:
Grace Chester, Alexa Uttridge, Grace Dobson, Tahalia Acheampong, Elliana Martin, Isabel Pilcher, Amelia Ajao, Bethany Kaluya, Shaniyah Sood, Habeebat Gbajabiamila, Makeba Black, Grace Gondo, Ashéya Patrick, Zoe Harris, Malaika Assie-Nkansah, Iris Lacey, Annis-Clara Wright