Late goal sinks Rangers

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Longhoughton Rangers Girls...4 Cramlington Town Girls...5 (aet)

Northumberland Girls’ Football League Shield – Final

A LATE extra-time winner snatched the honours for Cramlington Town.

The game started at a blistering pace and within a minute Longhoughton had taken the lead, midfielder Finney firing through a congested goal mouth into the Cramlington goal.

Not to be outdone, Cramlington equalised a minute later, Wilson breaking past a weak challenge from Smart to cut inside and place the ball beyond Burn in the Rangers goal.

Longhoughton pressured and three minutes later the pacey Keech fired Rangers into the lead, stealing in to pick off a misplaced back pass to make it 2-1 to Rangers.

Longhoughton went close again through Morrison and Lewington, but Cramlington kept pressuring and equalised two minutes later, Dixon catching Wood in possession to fire past Burn after Smart had been exposed on the right flank.

The game swung from end to end as first one side then the other continued to probe for an opening.

Rangers’ Keech and Hutton spurning chances and Cramlington’s Dixon forcing a save from Burn, before Longhoughton’s defensive frailties came back to haunt them.

A long ball from the Cramlington midfield and a mad moment of indecision between Longhoughton goalkeeper Burn and defender Wood as both left the ball for the other, allowing Town’s Dixon to pick their pockets and tap in from eight yards.

Rangers Morrison was unlucky not to even the scores five minutes later, but the Rangers captain was denied by the impressive Strasenburgh, the goalkeeper turning the ball round her left hand post.

Longhoughton’s Keech forced another fantastic save from Strasenburgh minutes later, and the forward was unlucky to see another long range drive go wide of the right-hand post.

As the half progressed Rangers continued to frustrate, enjoying the majority of possession, but doing little with it, until the 31st minute when Keech outpaced Cramlington’s Plant to fire a low shot beyond Strasenburgh into the far corner of the goal, 3-3.

Longhoughton began the second half strongly, putting Cramlington onto the back foot, Keech forcing a corner from a free-kick, then Morrison going close, forcing another save.

As the half progressed Cramlington began to exert themselves on the game more, Longhoughton’s Parry and Lewington defending well, combining to deny Cramlington’s Wilson and Burn saving at her near post from a corner.

Longhoughton, pressing for another goal, were always exposed to the counter-attack and Town’s Dixon secured her hat-trick in the 57th minute, a hopeful lofted ball that caught Burn out of position and with little to do but watch the ball sail over her head into the Rangers goal.

With 10 minutes left Rangers equalised, the Cramlington goalkeeper spilling Keech’s initial shot and Captain Morrison side footing into the goal from six yards.

Morrison was unlucky not to win the game for Rangers as normal time drew to a close, the powerful forward turning well on the edge of the area and forcing a double save from the stalwart Strasenburgh before Keech also went close from distance, but Longhoughton couldn’t find the goal they so desperately needed.

As the game moved into extra-time neither team seemed able to gain an advantage, as first one side then the other pressed forward in attack.

Morrison and Keech both saw efforts saved by ‘Player-of-the-Match’ Strasenburgh whilst Longhoughton’s Burn turned away Dixon’s long range effort from 20 yards.

The winning goal came half way through extra time. Rangers right-back was caught out of position and Cramlington’s Wilson was able to fire in from close range after the Longhoughton defence was unable to clear their lines.

Credit to Rangers, they kept pressing, looking to drag a goal back, but were unable to find a way past the Cramlington goalkeeper, the dynamic Strasenburgh pulling off a series of last minute saves to secure the win for Cramlington Town.

Overall a fantastic game of football and both sides should be proud of themselves.

Longhoughton dominated for large periods and created more chances on goal than their opponents and but for Strasenburgh’s imperious performance Rangers may well have seen the Shield at Westfield Park for the first time, but it wasn’t to be.

Player of the Match: Cramlington Goalkeeper - Strasenburgh

Manager’s Player of the Match: Longhoughton Defender - Lewington

Longhoughton Rangers FC: H.Burn, E.Smart (E.Lester), C.Wood, E.Parry, J.Morrison (c), H.Finney (S.Lazenby), C.Hutton, R.Keech, B.Lewington