Dartford Women sealed victory in an entertaining Kent Women’s Final with a thunderbolt from Emily Vaughan, after Aylesford Ladies had threatened a second-half comeback.
Ahead at the break, courtesy of a desperately unfortunate own goal from Alex Witham, the Darts doubled their lead in the opening exchanges of the second half through Alicia Gibbs, before Aylesford skipper Beth Hulme gave her side hope with a looping effort. Vaughan, though, sealed the trophy for Dartford with a long-distance drive that flew into the roof of the Aylesford net.
After a cagey opening, it was the Darts who created the first real opening as Emily Vaughan’s header forced Aylesford ‘keeper Sade Rider into a smart save at the base of her left post. Moments later, the Aylesford ‘keeper again did well as she held onto Emily Read’s low-angled pile driver, before skipper Lizzie Adams went close for Dartford with a header.
Aylesford skipper Hulme then her side’s first real chance as she raced onto Shauni Griffiths’ through ball but slid the ball wide of the left post as Dartford continued to be in the ascendency, and again threatened the opening goal as half time approached. Rider did well to punch clear from Nicha Dyett only for Adams’ diving header to fly just wide. Vaughan then grazed the frame of the goal with a shot before being magnificently denied by a brilliant full-length Rider save – full length away to her right.
The opening goal then duly arrived in the half’s closing moments and was desperate for Witham who, until that point, had not put a foot wrong alongside Sasha Rudler at the heart of Aylesford’s back line. Read was again heavily involved and it was her fine run and cross down the right which was met by a despairing lunge from Witham and trying to clear the danger, the desperately unlucky defender could only turn the ball past the wrong-footed ‘keeper and into her own net.
The lead was doubled just after the break and again Read was the instigator as her cross from wide out on the right fell to Gibbs who at the second time of asking powered a shot high into the Aylesford net from just inside the box.
Aylesford went searching for a way back the contest and the luckless Witham came within an ace of finding it. Up for a free kick, the central defender’s clever flick was destined for the top corner before Jade Charlton pulled off a world class tip over. Aylesford though were not to be denied and in their very next attack, Hulme got in behind the Dartford defence and with defenders desperately trying to get back, the forward manged to lift the ball over Charlton and into the net.
Vaughan’s pile driver from 25 yards then restored Dartford’s two-goal cushion with a little over 10 minutes left. Try as they might Aylesford couldn’t respond this time – indeed it could have been more for Dartford had Rider not pulled off another terrific save to deny Adams a goal that the Darts skipper’s performance deserved.
In the end it was a jubilant Dartford side who collected the trophy whilst a gallant Aylesford side were left wondering what might have been at the end of another excellent night for the ladies’ game in Kent.
AYLESFORD LADIES – Sade Rider, Annie Colston, Alison Draper, Alex Witham, Sasha Rudler, Stacey Glover, Milly Penfold, Lucy Dante, Beth Hulme, Hannah Tyler, Fiona Constable
Subs – Sian Cheedy, Sydney Davis, Chloe Fowler, Zaka Chapman
DARTFORD WOMEN – Jade Charlton, Kimberley Green, Joanne Woodgate, Charlie Torry, Emily Read, Lizzie Adams, Isabelle Michalski, Shauni Griffiths, Alicia Gibbs, Emily Vaughan, Nicha Dyett
Subs – Katie Butts, Becky Burnham, Rachel Stevens, Megan Mansfield, Sasha Brinkley
REFEREE – Nicola Quayle
ASSISTANTS – James Grimley & Callum Moore
FOURTH OFFICIAL – Kelly Ryan