QPR Ladies Win The Thames Valley League Cup Final

I know that the QPR Girls/Ladies have been very successful in recent years and Patrick at work has just forwarded the following match report/pics to me. Congratulations and well done to Ray Paul, Stephen McCarthy (pictured below) and all the third team squad – Steve Russell

Team: Ikram Tribak, Louise Hayes, Layla White, Claire Wenden, Hayley Blake, Scarlett Hanrahan, Vanessa Oppong, Eleni Savva, Chloe Fogarty, Saisha Moyce, Chloe Julien.
Subs: Reneisha Thomas, Lesley Thurstan, Evelin Pitisci, Melanie Randall, Leah Stipic.
Manager: Ray Paul – Coach: Stephen McCarthy – Physio: Justin Hill
Held at Oxford City Football Club on Sunday 18th April 2010.

This year’s Cup Final saw the top two teams in the League pitted against each other in what was sure to be a thrilling encounter. In their two previous games this season, Mansfield Road had beaten QPR away and then drew at home in a fiercely contested match. In fact, the opposition had not lost a single game all season and went into the Cup Final as favourites.

The game began with both teams battling to gain possession of the ball, and it was the Rangers team who started the more cautiously, defending well but struggling to counter effectively. Gradually striker Chloe Julien began to link well with the midfield and, but for some questionable decisions from the referee, Rangers may have found themselves 1-0 to the good earlier, with what seemed to be a perfectly good effort being disallowed for offside. Nevertheless, the QPR Ladies continued to look the stronger of the two teams. Layla White was leading the defensive line, winning everything in the air and Claire Wenden’s speed and strength was vital in dealing with the Mansfield Road forward line.

The breakthrough came 15 minutes into the game. Midfielder Vanessa Oppong scoring a contender for goal of the season with a 25-yard strike that flew past the keeper and into the top corner. The goal had been well deserved, and demonstrated the shooting ability that Vanessa had shown all season. Mansfield came back strong after the goal, but were not able to create any cleat-cut chances. Part of this was due to how well the Rangers defence and in particular the full-backs were reading the game. Hayley Blake and Louise Hayes broke down the majority of the Mansfield attacks in wide areas, and when in possession of the ball, looked confident and did not hesitate in travelling with the ball themselves. Particular praise must be given to Louise who has played centre-back all season and only had two training sessions to learn how to slot in at right-back.

On the stroke of half-time, Mansfield Road showed why they were top of the league and scored an opportunistic equalising goal. A rare error in the QPR defence let in a Mansfield forward who struck instantly past the keeper. This was a blow to the Rangers team who had played the better of the football in the 1st half, but set up for a tense second 45 minutes.

QPR Ladies have played some superb football this season orchestrated by the midfield triangle of Vanessa Oppong, Eleni Savva and Scarlett Hanrahan. When these three are on form and playing well, they can overwhelm the opposition with their short passing and possession-based football. During the final they showed glimpses of their talent and Eleni Savva in particular looked threatening with the ball at her feet.

Early into the 2nd half, the three midfielders began to pass the ball around well and managed to engage the wingers Chloe Fogarty and Saisha Moyce. These two quick and skilful wingers had been in great form recently and as the spaces began to open up on the large pitch, they began to pose a real threat to the Mansfield defence. With a quarter of the 2nd half gone, QPR broke through the weakening Mansfield defence and scored their second goal of the game. Scarlett Hanrahan provided the telling ball through to Chloe Julien who slotted the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper. In her last game, Chloe had proven how good she is in a one-on-one situation with a 2nd half hat-trick, so it was no surprise to see her finish when the pressure was on.

The final half-an-hour of the game saw both teams looking to attack and score. The R’s defence stood firm and had to survive a spell where Mansfield looked dangerous. After this brief period, QPR took the game to the opposition and Saisha Moyce, substitute Reneisha Thomas and Chloe Fogarty provided wave after wave of attacks in wide areas, which saw Mansfield trapped in their own half for the bulk of the last 10 minutes. When the final whistle blew, nobody could deny that the better team had won, and the QPR Ladies and supporters celebrated a well deserved victory.

In only their first season together, the Ladies have bonded incredibly well, and winning the League Cup is a testament to their professionalism and winning mentality that they have displayed all season. The Ladies can also boast that in both the Semi-Final and Final, they have won against teams who had previously gone all season unbeaten. Many thanks to all the supporters who travelled to Oxford to support the team.

Stephen McCarthy

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