Wolves Women 3 (Hughes 26, 45, J. Cross 90) Stourbridge Women 0
It was a memorable night at Molineux for Wolves Women as they lifted the Birmingham FA County Cup for the second consecutive season.
Amber Hughes put on a show at the golden palace with her first half brace, before Jade Cross rounded off the win late on to end Wolves’ bittersweet season on a high in front of 2,572 fans.
Hughes’ double were her 46th and 47th goals for the club in two seasons in what was a first 45 full of chances for the hosts and just as a goalless second half looked to see the game out, a classic Cross finish saw the girls over the line.
It was a bright start for the Old Gold, who sat quite deep in the first half. Tammi George was working the ball well through the midfield and finding pockets of spaces to thread the ball through for her attacking teammates.
Stourbridge put on the pressure right from the off and played a higher line than the hosts, capitalising on any loose passes and making progress up the pitch.
Hughes threaded a through ball to Cross to create one of the first chances of the game, but there was too much on it for the twin to create an opportunity from it.
A big chance came when Destiney Toussaint played in a cross to Hughes who was waiting eagerly in the box. Hughes managed to connect with it and headed it goalward, but Stourbridge’s Amie Preston made a superb save to deny the number 11.
It was eventually Hughes who did find the back of the net when Wolves took a deserved lead before the half hour mark. George laid the ball off to the striker on the edge of the area who worked it into the 18-yard box and lifted it into the back of the net.
It was a brace for Hughes on the stroke of half-time. Toussaint played the ball out to the forward who opened up her body and struck the ball powerfully into the top left corner of the Stourbridge goal.
Lois Jefferies fancied her chances for the visitors at the end of the half as she brought the ball to the byline and struck from a tight angle at Shan Turner. Turner’s quick reaction allowed her to beat the ball away and the Old Gold went into the break two goals to the good.
Half-time | Wolves 2-0 Stourbridge
It was almost a Hughes hat-trick very early in the second 45. Her effort seemed to be going into the back of the net, but a slight deflection forced the ball out for a corner.
The second half as a whole had a slower feel to it, with Wolves being more patient on the ball and with their decision making, but Stourbridge used that to their advantage and were able to get themselves higher up the pitch to create more chances.
Jefferies, who had her late first half effort parried away by Turner, tried to chip the Northern Irish goalkeeper but saw her effort go over the bar.
A burst of energy in the final 10 minutes or so saw Wolves create a string of chances and trouble the Stourbridge defence. A late Katie Johnson corner found Amy Dicken who looked like she had the ball in the back of the net, but the ball found the comfortable hands of Preston.
Toussaint’s attempt inside the box not long after was also comfortably collected by the visiting shot-stopper as the winger didn’t quite get the connection she would’ve hoped for on the ball.
Stourbridge’s Alex Nicklin got the Stourbridge fans going as she charged towards Turner in goal. She weaved her way into the box, but before she could get her shot away, Anna Morphet was there to make a crucial interception and deny the visitors a way back into the game.
The victory was rounded off in the 90th minute with a goal for Cross. Brilliant hold-up play from Toussaint allowed the forward to run into a position in which she could receive the ball and when she did, she was able to slot it home from close-range.
The six minutes of added time was all about seeing the game out for Wolves and when the whistle finally blew, it was a perfect high to end another successful season on.
Full-time | Wolves 3-0 Stourbridge
It was a proud moment for Dan McNamara to end an emotional season with silverware and he couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved with the club.
“The girls, the staff and the fans deserve it,” said the Wolves boss. “They’ve put a lot into this season again and after the disappointment of a couple of weeks ago, to finish it off like that, at Molineux in front of over 2,500 fans is fantastic.
“Credit to Stourbridge; they’ve helped put 2,500 people in here and credit to what everyone is doing across the county in the midlands, because female football is on the rise and it’s really good to see.”
On Amber’s goalscoring form
“I think the stat of 47 goals is impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you say she’s probably played half the number of games she could’ve done. She suffered with eight games out last season, and we hadn’t had her since the 17th December until two weeks ago, so that’s a phenomenal statistic.
“When you have her on the pitch, Amber does what Amber does and comes up with unbelievable moments like that. The second goal is up there with the best we’ve scored this season. We’re delighted to have her back on the pitch and we know we want to be working with players of Amber’s quality.
“Away from Amber, I think all the girls deserve credit. We have missed her, but Destiney stepped up, Beth Merrick stepped up, Jade Cross stepped up. They’ve all been phenomenal all season.
“We wanted a bit more quality in certain areas, but it was just about getting over the line, so I’m delighted for the girls and it’s a really proud moment.”
“I don’t know what was said in the dressing room at half-time, but in the second half, Stourbridge came out and they had a real good go. It’s tough to come here; it’s a big pitch and Wolves have just matched the points with the top of the league, so maybe they didn’t know what to expect.
“Stourbridge defended resolutely in the first half; it was really tough to break open and get those two goals, but they created more opportunities in the second-half, but we just get over the line with a Jade Cross finish at the end.
“Credit to Stourbridge, they’re going to do great things next season and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Reflecting on the season
“Five years ago this was a bit of a pipe dream. Coventry United were cleaning up County Cups year on year and that’s what I wanted to create here. To go one step further and be playing in front of 2,572 fans at Molineux in a County Cup final, and retaining it is phenomenal.
“It’s credit to everyone at the football club. Jenna (Burke-Martin), Laura Nicholls, Matt Hobbs, Jeff Shi the chairman constantly giving the girls the best platform to perform and I know we’re going to have a really exciting summer and build on the great foundations that we’ve laid.
“Hopefully we can go again next year and who knows, hopefully it can be our year to get over the line and if not, we’ve got to keep striving to keep being the best we can and hopefully we’ll get the club where it needs to be.”
A message to the fans
“They’ve been phenomenal. We were a bit worried about moving to Telford, but they’ve been unbelievable, and I’m delighted for them and hope they enjoyed that to finish off the season.
“They really helped us in difficult moments, so credit to them and I hope they stay with us next year and we look forward to hopefully making more memories together.”
Wolves | Turner, Cooper, Morphet, E. Cross, George, J. Cross, Dermody, Hughes, Toussaint, Roberts, Merrick.
Stourbridge | Preston, Hadley, Heaselgrave, Levick, Clarke, Moran, Nicklin, Harrison, Lawrence, Rogers, Jeffries.