Sunday, 29 January 2012
Reading 0 (0)
Leicester 1 (0)
Lauren Turner Lauren Turner scored the only goal of the game as Leicester beat last year's finalists Reading 1-0 to be crowned 2012 Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals Champions at London’s Wembley Arena on Sunday.
The Maxifuel Super Sixes women's final was an edgy encounter, with few clear-cut chances for either side. Reading and Leicester had both overcome semi final opponents that had finished above them in the league table to reach the final, and the grit they showed then continued in this tight battle. Leicester had the best of the early exchanges, Vanessa Hawkins and Katie Long seeing efforts saved by Reading's goalkeeper Sarah Ellis. Long earned Leicester's first penalty corner but she was unable to convert the chance. She soon earned a second corner, and forced another save, with Ellis doing the splits to get a toe to the ball and to tip it round the post. Shortly after, Sam Quek forced her way through the Leicester defence to take Reading's first shot on goal with just over five minutes gone on the clock. A second foray into the circle earned Reading a penalty corner, but Leicester runner Lucy Brown blocked the shot to deny a goal. Quek then earned Reading a short corner, which again they could not convert, before Kerry Williams put a shot wide for Leicester. Many of the crowd, still excited from meeting the Great Britain men's team in an autograph session before the match, were given lots to cheer about, as well as the opportunities for a few 'oohs' and 'ahs' as both teams went close shortly before the end of the half but without breaking the deadlock. The second half started in the same form as the first, as a real end to end affair, and with both teams struggling to maintain possession for any length of time, neither could get a strong grasp on the game. Both goalkeepers were in fine form, making penalty corner saves following strikes by Quek for Reading and then long for Leicester. With ten minutes to go the game became livelier. Leicester’s Brown teed up Hawkins, who narrowly missed the goal after flinging herself athletically at the ball, and then Quek had to come to Reading's rescue, clearing the ball off the line following a goalmouth scramble. The game was starting to turn Leicester's way, Williams put a penalty corner strike just wide as the team in orange exerted more pressure on the Reading defence. Quek's defensive strength was proved by another goal line save, before Chantal De Bruijn got in on the act, clearing a Beckie Herbert flick. Galvanised by these saves, Quek pushed forward, earning a corner, which Reading could not make anything from. The breakthrough finally came five minutes from time, rewarding Leicester for their use of the wing. Katie Long drew her defender before crossing for Lauren Turner to tap in at the far post. Reading quickly counter-attacked earning another penalty corner but Sarah Thomas was thwarted by Leicester's Great Britain goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, who stormed out of her goal to block the flick. And that was the last shot on goal as the clock ticked down on this nervy encounter, the midlands team coming out on top of their southern rivals by just the single goal.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS