Ladies lift Ryman Cup
14 April 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs Ladies won a thrilling Ryman Cup Final on penalties against Charlton on Thursday night.
Katie O'Leary made a dream return to action after a four-month injury absence to slot home the decisive spot-kick as Spurs won the shoot-out 4-3 in front of 650 fans at Cheshunt FC.
Wendy Martin, Sophie McLean and Bianca Baptiste joined her on the scoresheet to secure a first trophy since the London Cup in 2012 and at the same time, gain revenge for last season's Ryman Cup Final loss against the same team.
It was no less than Spurs deserved after dominating the 120 minutes against their old rivals from the FA Women's Premier League.
The final was played at a frenetic pace and followed a similar pattern to a number of recent clashes between the teams with Spurs on top but failing to convert chances into the goals their play deserved.
The teams traded efforts from distance as the ball pinged from end to end in the first half-hour - Martin let fly twice and Baptiste without seriously troubling Megan Lynch in the Charlton goal. At the other end, Toni-Anne Wayne had to be on her toes to tip over from Nikita Whinnett.
Spurs turned it up a notch before the break though as first Riana Soobadoo had a shot cleared off the line and then Martin climbed highest to power a header from Jenna Schillaci's corner onto the crossbar.
Whinnett shot wide at the start of the second half but the next 40 minutes belonged to Spurs as Schillaci's header was clawed away by Lynch and then Martin powered another header just over.
Wayne tipped Graham's awkward low dipper wide with eight minutes to go and then agony for the home side in the final seconds as Rosie Kmita stretched to reach O'Leary's cross and could only watch as the ball trickled wide.
Into extra time and Charlton had their best chance of the night inside two minutes. Play switched ends quickly, Graham slipped in Shepherd who missed the target with only Wayne to beat.
Spurs then struck the woodwork twice, Baptiste fizzed into the top stanchion from the right angle before Martin rose magnificently again to meet Eartha Pond's corner only to rattle the crossbar for the second time.
The second half of extra time looked set to pass without major incident but then in the final seconds, typical of these matches, Charlton fashioned a chance and it needed McLean's intervention to keep out Charley Clifford's goalbound shot.
So into the penalty shoot-out. Dixson and Shepherd missed Charlton's first two kicks with Martin and McLean making no mistake for a 2-0 lead. Graham scored for 2-1 but then Schillaci missed. Clifford made it 2-2, Baptiste kept Spurs ahead at 3-2 and after Ruby Southgate scored Charlton's final penalty for 3-3, it left O'Leary with the penalty to win the trophy.
And she made no mistake, as the frustration of four months on the sidelines disappeared with the ball into the top corner.
Spurs Ladies: Toni-Anne Wayne, Sophie McLean, Alex Keown, Jenna Schillaci (c), Leah Rawle, Maya Vio (Katie O'Leary 46), Josie Green, Riana Soobadoo (Eartha Pond 97), Bianca Baptiste, Wendy Martin, Rosie Kmita (Shannon Moloney 97). Substitutes (not used): Chloe Morgan, Mollie Kmita.