Stevenage strike late to see off brave Colney Heath in Herts Women's Challenge Cup

The Colney Heath and Stevenage teams take to the pitch for the Herts Women's Challenge Cup final.

The Colney Heath and Stevenage teams take to the pitch for the Herts Women's Challenge Cup final. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

Stevenage held off brave resistance from Colney Heath to lift the Herts Women's Challenge Cup.

A first-half goal from Emily Schofield was added to by two inside the last 15 minutes, Kate French and Ailish Straver unleashing thumping efforts to seal the 3-1 triumph.

Sasha Manders got the late reply from Colney that was thoroughly deserved.

It was probably just about deserved but the Magpies more than played their part in a fascinating final, one which kept the big crowd at the County Ground in Letchworth enthralled for the full 90 minutes.

The first effort of the afternoon fell to Colney, Sasha Manders cutting inside and firing a shot from the edge of the area but straight at Tea Oldroyd in the Boro goal.

But for the remainder of the half, the possession and the chances went the way of the Stevenage.

Schofield had their first attempt, pulling a shot across the face of goal and wide and Colney keeper Naomi Swift took a whack as she bravely punched away a Chloe Gunn cross.

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The Magpies' defence was a standout feature of the half. Kelly Hancock, Grainne Kellett and skipper Lucy Hancock among those sticking their foot in and snuffing out most Stevenage attacks.

They couldn't do much about the goal though.

Shianne Swarres played a reverse ball down the left which turned the Colney defence and when Jodie Bellinger delivered the cross, it landed right at the feet of Schofield.

She still had a lot to do but with superb technique she guided it first time back the way it came and into the corner.

Stevenage tried to take the sting out of the half from there, passing the ball around the back and making the Heath players chase shadows.

The Magpies finished strongly though with Manders and Terri Harvey both testing Oldroyd, the Stevenage keeper though looked comfortable with everything that came her way.

That was not the case on 54 minutes as she was sold short by an under hit back pass that gave Tia Steadman w chance to steal.

And as she came out to clear, she missed the ball colliding with the forward instead.

No penalty was given and the resulting corner dropped onto the roof of the net.

That was part of a good opening from Colney which pinned Stevenage back, Daniela Monsstero making a couple of incisive runs to help with that.

They never created enough though and with the rolling subs allowing Stevenage to freshen it up, it was they who nearly extended their advantage.

Good work down the left allowed Paige Pryor to cross the ball and when it was missed by a defender, Dionne Manning got her foot on it and pushed it towards goal.

Unfortunately there was never enough pace on it and Swift was able to claim.

However, Stevenage put the game beyond doubt with a fine finish from French, rifled in from the right-hand side of the box, across Swift and into the far corner.

 Straver then decided it was her turn and from a central position about 25 yards out she caught a shot perfectly, sending it dipping over Swift and under the crossbar.

But Manders at least gave the sizeable Colney contingent something to cheer about with a stunning free-kick, also about 25 yards out but further out towards the touchline.

She didn't care though and put it into the corner beyond Oldroyd.

There was still one more moment of drama when  Holly Greenwood rattled the bar for Stevenage but any disappointment was soon forgotten as they started the celebrations.

Colney Heath: Swift, Santangelo, Hume, Appleby, Holmes, Steadman, K.Hancock, Manders, Harvey, L.Hancock, Kellet.

Subs: Nellis, Hall, Hickey, Monastero, Godino

Goal: Manders 84

Stevenage: Oldroyd, Soutby, Schofield, Webster, Neal, Makewell, Greenwood, Bellinger, Gunn, French, Swarres.

Subs: Straver, Paci, Manning, Bennett, Pryor.

Goals: Schofield 25, French 75, Straver 80

HT: Colney Heath 0 Stevenage 1

Referee: Joanne Horwood (Hemel Hempstead)