Billericay Town 2-3 C & K Basildon (after extra time), Thursday 13th April 2017, Kick-Off 7:30pm, Bridge Avenue, BBC Essex Women’s Cup Final.
Click here to view the Ponderosa Pix images from this match.
A goal in the second half of extra time from substitute Paige Wakefield sealed an enthralling BBC Essex Women’s Cup Final and a third successive title for C & K Basildon Ladies.
FA Women’s Premier League side C & K were pushed all the way by Billericay Town, of the Eastern Region Women's League Premier Division, with Town leading early on through Paris Smith. Hannah Porter and Karissa Rodney edged C & K ahead before half-time, but Hayley Piggott levelled for Town shortly after the break to force extra time.
“It was entertaining to the death!” smiled C & K boss Steve Tilson after the contest. “If you don’t put your chances away it can be costly and, whenever a game is tight, at whatever level, both sides are going to keep going. Fair play to Billericay, who really made it difficult for us tonight.”
“We scored three decent goals. Our girls did well. At the end of the day it’s a cup final and there was a really good atmosphere. It was a great advert for women’s football,” he added in reflection of the win, which was secured in front of a crowd of almost 400. The success clinched C & K’s third successive win in the final, and their fourth in the last five seasons.
“We always say before each season that we have two aims; to improve our league position and to win the County Cup. We have achieved both of those and we’ll look to do the same next year, but you can take nothing for granted, as tonight’s game has proven,” he remarked.
Billericay took the lead with 9 minutes played when a ball into the box found Smith and she looped a header over goalkeeper Nikita Runnacles and into the corner. C & K’s leveller came ten minutes later as Amy Nash chipped a ball into the penalty area for Porter to neatly flick a finish beyond Town custodian Robyn Strauss.
First-half chances for C & K saw Sara Sinclair fire wide at the near post, whilst Stacey Little - a previous winner with West Ham United - was twice off-target before the Premier League side got themselves ahead on the stroke of half time. An excellent Nash cross was lifted across goal for Rodney to nod in at the far post, and the favourites were in front.
After the interval, Billericay’s response was swift, and they equalised just three minutes after the restart as a loose ball popped up inside the six-yard box for Piggott to rifle an angled effort into the far top corner of Runnacles’ net.
Katie Whitehead lobbed over moments later as Billericay pressed forwards, but it wasn’t long until their shot-stopper, Strauss, was called upon to make two fine saves within a minute. First she tipped Rodney’s curling effort around the post before then pushing out Porter’s drive from the resulting corner.
Just after the hour Rodney curled a shot against the top of the bar before Strauss denied Zoe Rushen, who then also fired inches wide moments later as the action continued apace. Deep into added time, Rushen’s near-post header brought another excellent save from Strauss and the game was destined to head into an additional 30 minutes.
Rodney struck the crossbar again in the first half of extra time and, just after the brief break, Billericay’s Vicky Kinsman worked herself into space but saw her shot well held by Runnacles. The winner arrived on 112 minutes as a cross from the left-hand side saw Wakefield steer a header inside the far post.
Within a minute, Nash fired over from close range as C & K looked to seal the tie but, although gallant Billericay refused to give in, Tilson's side held on to claim their latest county title. The result leaves them just one win away from equalling both the records for consecutive and total BBC Essex Women’s Cup Final victories.
Billericay Town: Robyn Strauss, Sally Appleton, Sarah Bovington, Kirsty Knight, Nicole Farmer, Lindsey Morgan, Rosi Webb, Vicky Kinsman, Katie Whitehead, Paris Smith, Hayley Piggott (Rachel Armstrong, 78). Unused Substitutes: Lisa Robins, Fran Murphy, Joanne Kerrigan, Michelle Stoneman.
C & K Basildon: Nikita Runnacles, Kerry Stimson (Paige Wakefield, 87), Hannah Porter, Kayleigh Xidhas, Stacey Little, Zoe Rushen, Amy Nash, Angela Addison, Victoria King, Karissa Rodney, Sara Sinclair (Lily Mellors, 84). Unused Substitutes: Paige Bradley, Mollie de Bell, Sophie Blowers.
Referee: Kirk Edwards (Shoeburyness).
Assistant Referees: Paul Sturton (Billericay) and Harry Dunnett (Rayleigh).
Fourth Official: Thomas Brooks (Dagenham).