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Southampton Saints completed the Southern Region League and Cup 'double' with a 2-1 extra time victory in the League Cup Final over Maidenhead Utd in sweltering conditions at Reading Town F.C.
However the two sides produced an enthralling match and only an extra time penalty separated them after Maidenhead more than matched their double winning opponents.
The Saints made a flying start and took a third minute lead with a bizarre goal as striker Louisa Castle tackled Natalie Barret in the area and the ball rolled into the net for the opening goal.
Maidenhead bounced back quickly from the early setback and a curling free kick from Kerry Knott was foiled by a great headed clearance by Chelsea Owton. Zoe Clifford sent in a number of dangerous set pieces which were well defended by Southampton and a 40-yard free kick from Lucy Thomson was held under her bar by Hannah Haughton.
Southampton were dealt a blow when Owton was forced to leave the field with a shoulder injury but they were next to go close, Krystal Whyte cutting in from the right before hitting the side netting.
Maidenhead continued to press and Tina Brent brought out a save from Haughton after latching onto a long ball from Hannah Bramall. The Saints keeper again needed to be alert to deny the lively Clifford, blocking a shot with her legs.
Kim Betlem came close to doubling Southampton's lead but was unable to convert a far post cross by Gemma Simmonds. However Maidenhead continued to do most of the attacking at this stage with Knott going close from a free kick.
As the second half began, Maidenhead again started strongly and it took a good challenge from Rachel Snow to deny Knott as she threatened to score. On the hour mark though, the scores were level after a corner had been half cleared and Brent returned the ball to Clifford, who crossed for Vicky Jarrett to equalise with a looping header over Haughton.
Jarrett came close to a second goal from another corner but this time her well struck volley was just wide. Southampton were starting to take over matters at this point though and the introduction of substitutes Taz Pardoe and Kerri Why gave them fresh impetus going forward, while Roxy Lee-Stewart and Simmonds began to take control in the middle of the park.
Pardoe made a good break down the left and cut the ball back for Simmonds whose 20-yard drive brought out a brilliant diving save from Chloe Rostron. Simmonds was to go close again from a similar range, this time her effort was just past the post.
Maidenhead goalkeeper Rostron was severely hampered by an ankle injury which required lengthy treatment at one stage but she was able to carry on despite clearly being in discomfort. She found herself under pressure in the later stages of normal time, firstly as Simmonds made a fine run and cross from the left and, although Barret made a crucial interception, Whyte hit the outside of the post with her shot.
As the game went into injury time, Southampton went close again as Pardoe's cross from the right was just out of Why's reach at the far post.
Extra time saw the pace of the game slow dramatically and the stifling heat was taking its toll as a number of players went down with cramp. The early chances went Maidenhead's way, Brent heading inches wide from a Louise Ekins cross and a Thomson free kick dipping just over.
Maidenhead had defended well with captain Barret oustanding in the centre and Ekins having an impressive match at left back, but they were breached in the 103rd minute as Simmonds dispossessed Knott who pushed her over in the area and a penalty was awarded. Pardoe stepped up and coolly found the corner of the net to put the Saints back in front.
Maidenhead committed more players forward as they chased the game once again and they could have been level as Bramall's long ball picked out Clifford, who found Knott in front goal but the striker steered her shot wide of the goal.
Southampton's back four of Amy McDevitt, Harriet Pascoe, Snow and Hannah Billingham now stood firm as Maidenhead desperately sought an equaliser. The Saints held on for their second trophy of the season in which began their climb back up the pyramid.
Southampton Saints: Hannah Haughton, Rachel Snow, Hannah Billingham, Roxy Lee-Stewart, Amy McDevitt, Harriet Pascoe, Krystal Whyte, Gemma Simmonds, Louisa Castle (sub Taz Pardoe 59mins), Chelsea Owton (sub Kim Betlem 24mins), Jess Whitmore (sub Kerri Why 63mins).
Maidenhead Utd: Chloe Rostron, Amy Saunders (sub Naphtalie Williams 111mins), Louise Ekins, Vicky Jarrett, Natalie Barret, Lucy Thomson, Charlotte Benson (sub Coralie Scannel 98mins), Tina Brent, Hannah Bramall, Kerry Knott, Zoe Clifford.
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