The New Saints Ladies have completed a treble of wins as their 2015/2016 season drew to a close after beating Shrewsbury Town Ladies at the Greenhouse Meadow.
The Saints looked to defend their Shropshire Women’s Cup crown for the fifth successive season as they faced a Shrewsbury Town side who’s first Shropshire Cup Final it was for eight years.
It was to be the Oswestry side who would strike first, after Maddie Jones was fouled by Jess Hicks on the corner of the box, the resulting free kick by Laura Morris was met by Shrews defender Charlotte Turner. Turner could do no more than direct the ball into the top corner of her own net. However, Town responded less than a minute later. Danni Smith broke down the left wing before her shot from 25 yards out flew over the top of goalkeeper Ceri Evans in the Saints goal to level the scores.
The Saints then pushed to regain their lead, Laura Morris came close, with a darting run down the left hand side only to see her shot well saved by Beth Cleverly in the Town goal. Morris then played in Emily Ridge for the Saints next chance. Ridge cut inside but her shot dipped to late and rattled against the crossbar. TNS kept pushing forward and creating opportunities. A Sam Berry free kick just inside the Town half fell to Laura Morris, Morris found room to get her shot off but saw it balloon into the air and well over the crossbar.
The Saints started much the brighter side in the second half and looked to break the Shrews back line on numerous occasions but goalkeeper Beth Cleverly was first to react. Ridge continued to cause problems for the Town defence as she again got in behind, this time in the fifty seventh minute, but she dragged her shot wide of the far post from just outside the box. Stacey Garnham then saw her shot from outside the area narrowly go over the crossbar. The Clubs Leading Scorer would find herself the space she needed on the sixty fourth minute. A outside of the foot through ball by captain Amy Tomei found Ridge who drove forward before rounding the Shrewsbury goalkeeper, finally slotting the ball into the empty net to restore the Saints lead.
Shrewsbury had a chance to level less than a minute later when Danni Smith drove forward on the inside left but shot low and wide of the left post from 20 yards. After the near let off the double winners pushed for another goal, Laura Morris’s through ball found Emily Ridge who’s shot from the by line was parried to safety by keeper Beth Cleverly. Cleverly would be called into action again just minutes later, again she was able to claim Emily Ridges driver cross before Sam Berry could get on the end of it. With less than ten minutes on the clock, Charlotte Canlett played a high through ball to Sam Berry, who’s chip over the Town goalkeeper saw Beth Cleverly get finger tips onto it and push it just wide. The Saints defence looked to stay strong even in the late stages of the game and when Town broke forward reduced them to long through balls which Ceri Evans was able to deal with comfortably. Emily Ridge was next to come close for either team, a through ball by Charlotte Canlett saw her cut inside before her near post shot was once again parried away by the impressive Cleverly. The Saints wouldn’t be able to add to their lead and see the game out to win their tenth Shropshire Women’s Cup and fifth consecutive final.
Manager Joe Thompson commented after the game, “There are no words I can say that can explain how pleased I am for that group of players. What a season and what a group they are and that has topped everything off.”
“We were made to work hard tonight and they were good first half but I think everyone could see the goal was coming and its fitting it was Emily Ridge who got it. We have as a group been head a shoulders above everyone we have come across this season and its fitting we have three trophies to show for it.”
This concludes the ladies season for the 2015/2016 season and now they look forward to life in the FA Women’s Premier League next season and life without Joe Thompson and captain Amy Tomei.