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2014-03-10T11:00:00 Updated 2015-02-18T22:28:45

Ladies reach County Cup final

West Ham United Ladies are through to the Essex FA County Cup final after a thrilling penalty shootout victory at  holders C&K Basildon.

The Hammers, who defeated the same opposition in a shootout in the FA Women's Cup in February, made sure lightning stuck twice through the heroics of goalkeeper Lauren Picton.

The stopper saved two Basildon penalties to see West Ham through 4-3 in the shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra-time in Sunday's semi-final.

The game started with great pace and commitment from both sides and when Lily Mellors turned inside and fired a shot into the far corner of the net after just seven minutes, the signs were looking good for a routine West Ham victory.

But the lead barely lasted a full minute when Basildon equalised. A deep cross came over from the left and it was the Basildon defender who got her head to the ball first and sent the ball into the back of the Hammers net.

To make matters worse, after 15 minutes Hammers skipper Stacey Little was carried from the field with an ankle injury. A subsequent trip to hospital revealed that, thankfully, there was no fracture as was initially feared.

The game lost its momentum after the stoppages and West Ham lost their flow. This allowed Basildon to put further pressure onto the Hammers defence and they came close on a number of occasions but their finishing was off target.

Just before the 90 minutes were up the Hammers had a purple patch which saw Mellors, Cherrelle Albert and April Bowers all go close, but the scores remained level at the end of normal time.

The 30 minutes of extra-time also failed to provide a winning goal, with both sides a little more cautious in their ventures into the opposition half.

Finally it came down to a penalty shootout. Basildon were first at the spot and Picton pulled off a fine save low down to her right, giving the Hammers an advantage.

Sarah McCrea stepped up and scored putting West Ham one up, before once again Picton foiled the Basildon taker. Mellors was up next, but her effort hit the post, to keep the score at 1-0 on penalties.

Basildon scored all three of their remaining penalties and with Albert and Bowers scoring for the Hammers, it was 3-3 with just Danica Revell to come and without showing any nerves she but the ball into the back of the net for a fantastic win.

West Ham will face Barking in the final at AFC Hornchurch on 17 April, with kick-off at 7.45pm. There, the Hammers will be seeking to win the competition for a third time, having previously lifted the trophy in 2009 and 2011. Barking have also won it twice previously, in 2001 and 2003.

Ladies: Picton, King, McCrea, West, Revell, Blanchflower (Cliffe 46), Little (Lipley-Hinton 15, Masters 103), Morgan, Bowers, Albert, Mellors
Subs not used : Bottom, Beard

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