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Evie Creaton, Jess Allen and Alex Penny goals see AFC Sudbury defeat Needham Market to lift the Suffolk Women's Cup at Colchester United FC



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AFC Sudbury Women remain on course to complete a treble this season following a memorable night at Colchester United's Jobserve Community Stadium.

Luke Mallett's side scored two goals inside the opening 16 minutes to set them on their way to a deserved 3-1 victory over Needham Market in last night’s final of the Suffolk Women's Cup.

Goals from Evie Creaton and Jess Allen had them in control and although Ele Catchpole pulled one back just before the break, Alex Penny restored the two-goal advantage soon after.

AFC Sudbury Women celebrate the club's second Suffolk Women's Cup triumph following their 3-1 victory over Needham Market at Colchester United FC's Jobserve Community Stadium Picture: Paul Voller (Suffolk FA)
AFC Sudbury Women celebrate the club's second Suffolk Women's Cup triumph following their 3-1 victory over Needham Market at Colchester United FC's Jobserve Community Stadium Picture: Paul Voller (Suffolk FA)

It left the side, drawn from the club's full-time academy students who have earned a place in two college national finals this season, toasting the club's second triumph in the competition after winning it in 2013/14.

And they could soon add to their trophy collection this term. If they win their remaining league games they will be champions of East Region Women’s League Division One South and they face Hutton in the league Plate Final.

Reflecting on last night's success, leaving Division One North winners Needham Market runners-up for the third time in four seasons, manager Mallett told Suffolk FA: “It was a well-balanced and competitive game. Other than Ipswich Town these are the best two teams in Suffolk at the moment and it was a real battle.

An AFC Sudbury defender slides In to stop a dangerous Needham Market attack Picture: Ben Pooley
An AFC Sudbury defender slides In to stop a dangerous Needham Market attack Picture: Ben Pooley

“We have a young side with several teenagers and our oldest players being three 26-year-olds.

"Our young girls all stuck to the game plan for 90 minutes and their concentration was superb.

“We are notorious for starting slowly, but we have started to believe in ourselves more and we knew we could hurt them on the counter-attack with our pace.”

Captain Boni Shepherd, when asked if she felt they had controlled the game throughout, told Suffolk FA: "Yes, I'd say so. I think the first 15 we definitely had most of the control of the ball, even with turnover possession we were able to win it back and slow it down to keep everything how we wanted to play.

A crowd of more than 550 watched AFC Sudbury take on Needham Market in the Suffolk Women's Cup Final at Colchester United FC Picture: Ben Pooley
A crowd of more than 550 watched AFC Sudbury take on Needham Market in the Suffolk Women's Cup Final at Colchester United FC Picture: Ben Pooley

"We managed to get forward again and go straight in behind and that came from keeping possession in the first half."

Of the two early goals coming in quick succession she said: "It definitely helped us going into the second half, especially conceding after those two goals.

"I think it put the girls' mindset at ease as well and it helped us again control that game a little bit more to keep everyone level-headed and go on to push a little bit further."

With the third goal coming early in the second period to give them a nice comfort zone she said: "Yes it did. We came out knowing Needham were going to push straight away which they did, as they had scored their goal just before the first half finished.

"We decided we had to push back harder and I think we did that perfectly."

Needham Market pull a goal back through Ele Catchpole Picture: Ben Pooley
Needham Market pull a goal back through Ele Catchpole Picture: Ben Pooley

Having got themselves back into a two-goal lead, Sudbury never really looked in doubt of lifting the trophy and Shepherd hailed the players in charge of the defensive side of their game.

"I think we did really well at the back today," she said.

"Even playing out we did really well to just keep control and keep calm playing our football."

Needham Market's Dani Clarke saves early on Picture: Ben Pooley
Needham Market's Dani Clarke saves early on Picture: Ben Pooley

After just four minutes the Yellows gave a glimpse of what was to come as Penny crossed from the right and Needham 'keeper Dani Clark was forced into a good save by Allen.

Opposite number Millie Carter then smothered an effort from Lina Nagib, before a splendid last-ditch tackle by Teigan McHale prevented Lois Balfour from scoring an almost certain goal.

AFC Sudbury took the lead in the 10th minute when Creaton got in behind the Needham Market defence and slotted home.

The Marketwomen's defence were struggling to cope with the pace of Sudbury’s attacks and six minutes later Creaton again got clear. Amd although Clark saved, the ball fell invitingly for Allen to sweep home.

Mid-way through the half Penny took advantage of a misdirected header by Niamh Thomas to advance towards goal before flashing a shot wide of the far post.

Needham Marrket's Lois Balfour chases the ball during their Suffolk Women's Cup Final with AFC Sudbury at Colchester United FC Picture: Ben Pooley
Needham Marrket's Lois Balfour chases the ball during their Suffolk Women's Cup Final with AFC Sudbury at Colchester United FC Picture: Ben Pooley

Catchpole hooked over the crossbar from Balfour’s right-wing corner, but she did get on the scoresheet in the 41st minute, heading home over Carter after Abbie Fisher’s 35-yard free-kick came back off the bar.

However, AFC Sudbury restored their two-goal lead just two minutes into the second period. Creaton crossed from the left, Allen scuffed her shot across goal and Penny was there to slide in at the far post.

There was little in the way of goalmouth action thereafter, although Fisher sent another long-range free-kick narrowly off target on the hour mark and Clark had to make a double save to deny AFC Sudbury a fourth.

The cup and medals were presented by Suffolk FA chair Phil Lawler and Isabel Chaplin, chair of the Suffolk Youth Council and secretary of the Suffolk Girls’ & Women’s Football League.

Needham Market manager Warren Lewis-Claxton posted his thoughts on his Twitter account, writing: "Truly Gutted. We wasn’t at our best, and so it wasn’t to be. Sometimes that’s the way football goes.

"I couldn’t be prouder of the team for what they have achieved this season, and their constant togetherness through the highs and lows. Now we will reflect and come back stronger."

AFC Sudbury: Carter, Harrison, Provan, McHale, Shepherd, Crawford, Edwards, Guiver, Creaton, Penny, Allen. Used subs: Candice, Jeffrey, Smith, Dodd, Silva.

Needham Market: Clark, Pannifer, Thomas, Bloomfield, Catchpole, Rossiter, Henderson, Balfour, Etheridge, Nagib, Fisher. Used subs: Ward, Brawn, Wakefield, Sharp, Hall.

Referee: Nick Ward.

Attendance: 566