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Football - 25. March 2011.

Preparation the key to Barnet's Premier League cup success

Barnet Ladies manager Tracey Kevins has revealed her side's preparation gave them the edge as they lifted the FA Women's Premier League Cup yesterday.

By David Brenchley

The Bees defeated Nottingham Forest 4-3 on penalties at Adams Park, despite being reduced to 10 players after 70 minutes of the game when Stacey Sowden was sent off.

Although both teams hit the crossbar, it never seemed a match that would be settled before spot kicks - and so it proved as Cherie Rowlands saved penalties from Natalie Clarke and Catherine Lawson.

On the victory, Kevins said: "It is all about preparation. We came down here on Monday night, sized up the pitch and measured our training pitch to be the same dimensions so we knew exactly what we were facing.

"Ironically it is probably just a little bit narrower than the pitch we train on at our men's training ground so we knew we could cover the areas - obviously we didn't expect to do it with 10 players.

"We [also] made the decision, when Nottingham Forest played Watford, to send one of our coaches up to scout the game and she made copious notes on where their penalty takers went.

"Those notes were with our goalkeeper for the last week and she studied them, studied the run ups and knew exactly what she needed to do on each penalty.

"Cherie is a good goalkeeper but it wasn't a fluke that she saved those penalties. That was preparation and she knew exactly where they were going."

Left back Sally Wade scored the winning penalty for her side and admitted she had practised spot kicks in the build up to the game and also praised keeper Rowlands for her contribution.

"We were confident that if we held out and took it to penalties we would win because we have an amazing goalkeeper," she said. "We were confident she would save a few so we just had to do our job.

"[Scoring the winner] was an unbelievable feeling but all the girls did well in the shoot out. Someone had to take the last penalty and I have been practising so was confident and pleased to volunteer."

Wade revealed she had been down the local park and put every spot kick in the same place, despite knowing the keeper would go that was as well, but Kevins added that she missed in their last practise session as a team.

"We practised penalties Tuesday night and I can let you know Sally missed. She hit the post and was fuming because I wouldn't let her take it again so she went down the park yesterday and practised."

Wade continued: "It is very sad I know, a 26 year old going down the park with a flat ball and no net but I took the same penalty about 50 times - people looked at me like a nutter, running to get the ball every time."

WSR will be at Millwall v Bristol Academy on Sunday, follow me on Twitter for updates on the game and match report and reaction afterwards.

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