History in the making as Colney Heath Ladies reach county cup final for first time

Colney Heath Ladies' first-team and management for the 2021-2022 season.

Colney Heath Ladies' first-team and management for the 2021-2022 season. - Credit: SUSANNA GUINN PHOTOGRAPHY

Colney Heath Ladies made history as they reached the final of the Herts Women's Challenge Cup.

They beat Watford Development 2-0 at the Recreation Ground courtesy of goals from Sasha Manders and Grainne Kellett to set up a meeting with Stevenage, who had the hopes of Oaklands Wolves in the other semi-final.

The Lady Magpies couldn't have wished for a better start as they took the lead in three minutes.

Great work from Esme Hume in the middle of the park found Lily Hall who in turn played a great ball round the corner for Manders to run onto.

She still had work to do but cut in from the left and fired across the keeper into the far corner.

Kellett almost gave her a second moments later but her cross was an inch too high, and Terri Harvey went even closer with a shot that the keeper's fingertips deflected onto the post.

All of this was inside the opening 10 minutes and yet still it was Colney who did the pressing.

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Hall and Kelly Hancock were both denied by the keeper and with Lauren Appleby breaking up play expertly in the holding midfield role, Heath goalkeeper Naomi Swift was relatively untroubled, bar one shot that needed tipping over the bar.

And the Mags deservedly had a second before half-time, Swift and skipper Lucy Hancock getting the move started with Sofia Santangelo, Hume and Appleby continuing it further up the park.

Harvey and Hall then took over with the latter playing a perfectly-weighted pass out to the left for Manders to run onto and cross low for Kellett to finish sliding in at the back post.

Defender Annie Hickey made sure any Watford reprisals before the break were thwarted and substitute Holly Sheridan was a whisker away from making it three.

Watford's expected second-half charge didn't materialise until late on but Colney's game management was exemplary.

They switched things up too, bringing on Mel Godino and Elsbeth Cunningham for an injection of fresh legs, and Colney's final change was to bring on 16-year-old Lilly Nellis for the last five minutes.

There was no drama though as the hosts saw out that time in relative comfort to set up their historic final appearance.

That will be played at the County Ground in Letchworth on March 20.