Ladies lift the cup

West Ham United Ladies 9-0 Colchester United Ladies

West Ham United Ladies picked up their first ever piece of major silverware after a 9-0 demolition of Colchester United in the final of the Essex County Cup final.

Sam Pittuck was the heroine with a hat-trick, while a brace from Tracey Duxbury and strikes from Zoe Marshall, Gemma Shepherd, Clare Rogers and fittingly club stalwart Julia Setford - in her last season as a player - eased the Hammers to victory at Maldon Town's Wallace Binder Stadium.

Manager Tony Marshall had the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from and named a strong starting XI, which took just seven minutes to break through the Colchester resistance for the first time. After the ball was quickly switched from right to left, Duxbury found herself one-on-one with the Colchester goalkeeper and duly drilled the ball through her legs to give West Ham the lead.

The goal gave the Hammers a lift and they doubled their advantage six minutes later with Pittuck's first of the afternoon. Zoe Marshall threaded a through-ball to the forward and she rounded the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into the empty net. Then, on 17 minutes Duxbury added a third when she blasted home from the edge of the area after shots from Shepherd and Pittuck were blocked.

Pittuck was not to be denied for too long, however, as she added her second and West Ham's fourth shortly after. A Jess Barling cross from the left was met by a powerful header from the striker which flew past the stranded Colchester goalkeeper.

Then Zoe Marshall scored at the Wallace Binder Stadium for the second consecutive year, following her strike for the Under-16 Academy side last year. A Barling corner was cleared to the edge of the box only for the 16-year-old to drill an unstoppable drive into the bottom right-hand corner. Pittuck then completed her hat-trick just before half-time with a classy right-footed finish.

Manager Tony Marshall then used the half-time interval to make two changes at the break with the experienced Nat Grafton and Clare Rogers coming on for the impressive Zoe Marshall and Duxbury.

Shepherd was rewarded for an energetic performance with a goal shortly after the restart. After receiving the ball with her back to goal, the midfielder turned and beat two players before firing low into the far right-hand corner of the net. More chances were to come and go for Grafton, Pittuck and captain Lindsey Morgan before Rogers drilled home number eight from the edge of the area.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon was saved for the introduction of club chairperson Setford, who has enjoyed a fantastic career with West Ham. It was then to turn into an even more memorable afternoon for Setford as she rounded off the scoring for the Hammers. After running onto a loose backpass, she coolly rounded the goalkeeper and slotted the ball into the net for the most popular goal of the afternoon.

In front of a bumper crowd, swelled by all the junior West Ham Ladies sides and West Ham mascots, Morgan lifted the cup to the delight of the claret and blue fans and, of course, their manager.

Marshall said: "It has been a great day and a very professional performance. A big thank you to all of my coaching and support staff and our very large support today. It was like a home game atmosphere and the Hammers junior sides got to see the seniors in action.

"This was a target for us at the beginning of the season and I think we have demonstrated to our competition in Essex that we are serious about taking the club forward."

West Ham United: Smith, Barling, Dempster, Roache, Sullivan, Marshall (Rogers, 46), Morgan (c), Pittuck, Holmes, Duxbury (Grafton, 46), Shepherd