West Bromwich Albion Women 1 (Dugmore 4) Wolves Women 4 (Hughes 8, Gauntlett 37, Morphet 49, George 64)
Four spectacular strikes sealed Wolves their second trophy of the season as they claim bragging rights in the Black Country, soaring to victory over West Bromwich Albion in the Birmingham County Cup final at the Banks’s Stadium.
A bright start from the girls in gold saw them putting in some excellent tackles early on as they tried to progress the ball quickly into the opposition’s half and create chances.
This season’s top goal scorer Amber Hughes found herself in the perfect position and started to control the ball round West Brom’s keeper and tried her luck from a tight angle, but a blue and white shirt swooped in last minute to make the all-important clearance for the Baggies.
Albion took the lead early on due to lack of communication in the Wolves defence, in which Leigh Dugmore looped the ball over Shan Turner and into the back of the net.
It wasn’t long before Wolves responded and when on the attack, Hughes struck from distance and the ball rocketed into the back of the net to level the score.
Hughes was on target again for Wolves, but this time her shot from close range found the hands of West Brom’s Poppy Bastock
The game continued with both sides battling for the ball and progressing the ball forward into each other’s halves. Beth Merrick had a shot from outside the box; her effort finding the target but not the back of the net.
Despite West Brom creating their fair share of chances, Wolves found themselves on the attack once again, with Maz Gauntlett charging forward, striking the ball with so much confidence as it flew into the back of the net over the opposition goalkeeper to give Wolves the lead.
Turner was put into action as the first half came to an end. A West Brom free kick from the edge of the box saw the ball fly towards Wolves’ goal, but Turner’s quick reaction allowed her to tip the ball over the crossbar.
The old gold took a one goal lead going to the break, with an important second half of action to follow.
Half-time | West Brom 1-2 Wolves
The girls started off on the front foot in the second half, forcing a few early corners, with Gauntlett coming very close to scoring a brace and another superb goal, but her shot soared over the bar.
Shortly after, Hughes was bought down in the box and a penalty was awarded to the Old Gold. Anna Morphet stepped up to the spot and converted a cracking penalty into the roof of the net to give us a two-goal advantage.
West Brom continued to pile on the pressure as they challenged Turner between the sticks, but the well-respected shot stopper was able to keep her cool when tested by the team in blue and white.
The goals from Wolves didn’t finish there as Merrick launched the ball up the field towards Gauntlett, she turned and passed the ball to midfielder Tammi George, who had her shooting boots on and powerfully struck it into the top-right corner for Wolves’ fourth from outside the box.
West Brom came close to closing the gap as a pass came flying across goal, but no Baggies were there to meet the ball and capitalise on the chance.
Jade Cross was also amongst the players who put her shooting boots on, as her shot from the right-hand side frustratingly ricocheted off the bar.
Turner made an incredible save in the closing stages of the second half, as she stuck her foot out to deny a close-range effort from West Brom.
Both teams fought it out till the final whistle, but Wolves came away with their second trophy of the 2021/22 season and there were smiles all round as for the third time this season, they were victorious in the Black Country derby.
Full-time | West Brom 1-4 Wolves
Caretaker manager Karl Milgate was thoroughly impressed with the girls’ performance under the lights in front of 811 fans and said: “This is very special for the girls and for Macca who isn’t here. The league and cup double in their first season back in the Northern League is some achievement.
“We said before the game they will probably make it a bit crazy for the first half an hour and that was probably their game plan. It did shock us, but the character, determination, and hunger of the group, they know how to come back. The early goal rocked them for a couple of minutes, then it kicked in and Amber what a finish.
“Both Maz and Amber up top tonight were incredible.”
When speaking about what he said to the girls at half-time, Milgate said: “We had to tidy some things up. It wasn’t going quite how we wanted it to. Ultimately, we went back to the Wolves way and it was heart, desire and nearly a clean sheet. Keep a clean sheet in the second half and we said we’d win the game.”
Goalkeeper Shan Turner had a great performance against the Baggies, making some incredible saves to deny opposition goals. Milgate said: “The one at the end was very good. It would’ve made it 4-2, but would it have affected the outcome, I don’t think so, but what a save it was.
“We didn’t necessarily keep their keeper busy, but we hit the bar a couple of times and had a lot of opportunities as well.
“The mood amongst the girls is great right now and they’re enjoying it. Speaking on behalf of Macca, he will be hugely proud tonight. It hurt them in their first season when Macca came in and West Brom won the league. They had to take that, and they lost with dignity and so they will enjoy it tonight.
“It’s a local rival and all the Wolves fans were complimentary to the players at the end for their heart, desire and effort throughout the game.”
ONE LAST PUSH
21/05 Southampton (Championship play-off final)
For the final time this season, the girls need your support as they travel to Edgeley Park in Stockport to face Southampton in the fight for Championship Football next season.
It will be the biggest game of many of the girls’ careers, if not all and we want to see as many of you down there as possible.
West Brom: Bastock, Brown, Davies, Green, George, Stamps, Embley (Tudor 78), Loydon (Greaves 66), Dugmore, Robinson (Walklett 60), Mahmood.
Wolves: Turner, Cooper, Price (Walker 83), E.Cross, Gauntlett (Miller 66), George (Butler 78), J.Cross, Hughes, Darby (Elsmore 59), Morphet, Merrick.
By Megan Garbutt