King crowns cup triumph
HOCKEY: Ipswich Ladies 3 Olton & West Warwicks 2 (golden goal in extra time): Ipswich Ladies captain Leisa King capped a regal performance in the final of the EHA Cup with the winning golden goal to complete her hat-trick and clinch victory over favourites Olton & West Warwicks.
Ipswich Ladies 3 Olton & West Warwicks 2 (golden goal in extra time)
Ipswich Ladies captain Leisa King capped a regal performance in the final of the EHA Cup with the winning golden goal to complete her hat-trick and clinch victory over favourites Olton & West Warwicks.
The England midfielder produced a commanding performance by driving her team on and when Ipswich were awarded a penalty stroke with five minutes left in extra-time, there was only one person who was going to take it.
She fired home with aplomb to give Ipswich, who have struggled in the Premier Division this season, their second cup triumph since 1996.
"It has been an excellent day," said the match-winning skipper after lifting her first trophy.
"It has been such a difficult season for us as we have had no luck whatsoever.
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"I think we have been underdogs all weekend but it was our grit and determination which won it today.
"The stroke was a very nervy moment but I just put it in and ignored the fuss going on around me."
The result could have been so different had Olton's Rachel Walker not had her tenth minute penalty stroke saved by Ipswich goalkeeper Nikki Osborne.
Ten minutes before half-time King drilled home a penalty corner and Ipswich had the better of the play until Olton – third in the Premier Division – equalised through Vanessa Hawkins from a 47th minute penalty corner.
Midway through the half Ipswich retook the lead when King's corner strike was deflected past goalkeeper Maggie Rees by Olton team-mate Walker.
However, with five minutes remaining Walker, who scored four penalty corners in Saturday's 8-0 semi-final demolition of Leyland Motors, scored from a set-piece to level the scores.
And England midfielder Helen Grant could have won it for Olton seconds from the end when her shot from a penalty corner rebounded off a post.
But the game went into sudden-death extra-time and when Sarah Bamfield's charge into the area was halted by the diving defender Caroline Gilbert, the stage was set for King to steal the show.
On Saturday, Ipswich had coasted past Sutton Coldfield in the all-Premier Division semi.
The Suffolk side, who have won just four of their 16 league games, were matched goal for goal by Sutton in the early stages, but took control in the second half to run out 5-2 winners.
Jo Ellis put her team ahead and Tanya Barnard made it 2-0 before Louise Turney pulled one back for Sutton.
Helen Whalley's penalty corner levelled things up midway through the first half before King
intervened with penalty corner goals either side of half-time.
Sutton were still in with a chance until Kirsten Spencer netted another set-piece three minutes from time.
Ipswich will have to go into the play-offs to try to preserve their EHL Men's League Division Two status despite a 1-0 win away to Oxford Hawks yesterday.
They needed to win by two clear goals to finish above Oxford on goal difference but, after finishing bottom but one, must now go into the play-offs with the regional champions.
Bottom club Bromley also won, 1-0 at home to Formby, but it left them a point behind Ipswich and Oxford and automatically relegated.