Courtney Sweetman-Kirk now feels that Coventry City Ladies have the ‘’mark of a successful club’’, after they retained the Birmingham FA County Cup with a victory over Sporting Club Albion.
Helen Dermody netted her 10th goal of the season to put the Sky Blues ahead inside the opening five minutes at Damson Park, only for Ashleigh Neville to equalise late in the game. Both teams traded punches in extra-time, before Natalie Reay fired in after Albion had failed to clear from a corner.
However, the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division side provided a dramatic finale, as Robyn James fired in from point-blank range in the 120th minute to send the game to penalties. Goalkeeper Sue Wood was the hero in the shootout, saving the first and final kicks to win 4-3 on spot-kicks and lift the FA County Cup for the second year in succession.
The Sky Blues also defeated Knowle, Coventry Development Ladies, Leafield Athletic and – last year’s finalists – Aston Villa, along the way.
‘’It feels great to retain the cup,’’ admitted Sweetman-Kirk. ‘’I feel that winning a cup at any level is one thing but to retain it takes a lot more effort and demonstrates the mark of a successful club.
‘’The win ranks very highly and retaining the cup was very important for the whole club. Now we have to focus and better our league position from last year, which was another aim at the start of the season and still looks more than possible.’’
On the night, the Sky Blues struggled to engineer the type of football that has rewarded them with three consecutive league wins over Charlton Athletic, Barnet and Cardiff City in recent weeks, but it was very much a case of the result taking precedence over the performance. Wood also praised the effort and endeavour of a resilient Albion side, which refused to cave in over the course of the 120 minutes.
‘’We acknowledged as a team that we underperformed on the night,’’ she confessed. ‘’But credit must go to Sporting Club Albion for pushing us all the way. However, to win via a penalty shootout is a fantastic feeling and the penalties that the girls took were top class.’’
It has been a difficult few weeks for Coventry City Ladies, having been denied a place in the revised FA Women’s Super League format, whilst fellow FA Premier League sides Aston Villa, Barnet, Manchester City, Sunderland and Watford were all granted a spot. However, Wood believes that the cup success was the perfect remedy to get them back on track.
‘’We have to move on from the disappointment within the whole club of not being included in the FA Women’s Super League and tonight was the perfect way to do it. The focus of the squad is now firmly on the last three league games and we still have the chance of beating last year’s position.’’
Source: Coventry MAD