Date: 21st April 2017 at 10:52am
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Spinning back twelve months and York City Ladies making history by winning the County Cup for a record sixth time after another dramatic triumph against rivals Middlesbrough.

Spinning back twelve months and York City Ladies making history by winning the County Cup for a record sixth time after another dramatic penalty shoot-out triumph against rivals Middlesbrough at North Riding FA Headquarters in Stokesley.

Following a scoreless ninety minutes between the only two clubs to have ever won the competition, the tie moved straight towards penalties – the third time it’s happened with the pair in the final.

And as with both of those previous occasions, it was the valiant City Ladies once again keeping their nerve against the holders as they took a fifth title in seven years courtesy of a 3-2 success.

The Minsterbelles made a couple of changes from the side that had won 3-1 at Hessle Town in their previous outing, with Beth Clayton and Jazz Whitwell returning across the midfield. Both Abbi Webster and Nat Eustance reverted to the bench.

Photo: Ian Parker

Belles midfielder Beth Clayton in possession supported by Josie Hewson

And they were to push strongly throughout the opening half with the recalled Whitwell and Ellie Harding both threatening the opposition goal during the initial exchanges.

Twelve-goal Harding also struck narrowly wide after a fine solo break before Josie Hewson, who was assigned a more advanced midfield role from her usual right-back position, was similarly off-target.

With the deadlock still remaining midway through the second-half, City manager Dale Holt began making changes. The experienced Kayleigh Davis replaced Helen Winterburn and young summer recruits Eustance and Chelsea Calvert were also introduced for Whitwell and skipper Sara Renfrew.

Photo: Ian Parker

Ellie Harding challenges watched on by the supporting York City Ladies Reserves

But there was to be no way through and the contest progressed directly to a penalty shoot-out.

The Belles were up first with defender Ruth Brazier firmly striking into the net, but after their opponents had successfully replied, Harding dragged their second penalty beyond the post.

However, York goalkeeper Steph Jones immediately blocked Boro’s next attempt, although Jess Barnes unfortunately couldn’t take advantage as she side-footed high and wide.

The Teessiders also missed their third spot-kick – and substitute Davis calmly put York into the lead again. Boro immediately matched that despite the best efforts of keeper Jones.

But Megan Bramham confidently edged York back in front – and that was to prove decisive as their rivals hoisted the next penalty over the crossbar.

Photo: Ian Parker

Winners York City Ladies claimed a record sixth County Cup trophy

“I thought we dominated the game from start to finish,” City Ladies manager Holt said afterwards. “We looked a threat every time we attacked and defensively we were outstanding, we maybe should of won it in the 90 minutes but credit to Middlesbrough for digging in.

“As for penalties I think I was he most nervous person there!,” he admitted. “If we’d have lost it would have been extremely disappointing, but huge credit must go to the girls.

“In that pressure cooker environment the girls stepped up and produced a top performance, and showed tremendous courage to get us over the line. The girls have worked very hard while I’ve been at the club and deserve this success.”

York City Ladies: Steph Jones, Jess Barnes, Ruth Brazier, Megan Bramham, Helen Winterburn, Josie Hewson, Sara Renfrew, Beth Clayton, Nikki Brown, Jazz Whitwell, Ellie Harding

subs: Kayleigh Davis, Nat Eustance, Chelsea Calvert, Becca Dawson, Abbi Webster

Video Link: In-Play Sports Ltd