Maidenhead United Ladies rounded off only their third season in existence with a thrilling victory in the Southern Regional Women’s Football League Chairman’s Cup Final ten years ago, defeating Southampton Women’s FC to lift the trophy on 15th May 2011.
Victory that day at Hartley Wintney FC gave the Magpies some closure after they had run SRWFL Premier Division champions Southampton Saints close in the 2010 final held at Reading Town FC, defeated 2-1 in extra time. This time it was Southampton’s other senior women’s side standing between Maidenhead and the silverware.
Maidenhead had finished comfortably mid table in their second season in the Premier division and may have been considered favourites to have beaten Southampton Women’s – 8 times winners of the Women’s FA Cup in the 1970s and 1980s – were it not for the fact that SWFC had themselves enjoyed an excellent season which had ended in promotion from Division 1.
The route to the later stages of the competition had seen the Magpies eliminate Henley Town before runaway Premier Division leaders University of Portsmouth were defeated following a penalty shoot-out. Boscombe Albion were the opposition in the semi-final and a brace from Verity Snow along with Natalie Barette’s goal saw United through to the final with a comfortable 3-0 victory.
On Cup Final day Maidenhead turned in a performance befitting the occasion and scored the two decisive goals in the first half. The Magpies made an ideal start when a Natalie Barette shot went in off the unfortunate Shereen Cordy. Maidenhead dominated and doubled their lead before the break when Louise Ekins scored from the penalty spot.
The Magpies goalkeeper that triumphant day in North Hampshire was Ellie Parker, who now ironically plies her trade with the very opposition who she helped keep at bay. Southampton were close to a goal back early in the second half through a dipping shot from Hannah Hewlett which Parker did well to claw around the post for a corner and the Magpies ‘keeper excelled once again with another brilliant save, this time to deny Charlotte Davies after a corner had been half cleared. Before the game was done Cordy was also to be frustrated by Parker.
Southampton were then handed a great opportunity to reduce the arrears with thirteen minutes to go when Mel Callaway tripped Vicky Musselwhite in the area and a penalty was awarded. Hewlett stepped up and, although her kick was well struck, Parker dived low to her left to pull off another key save. Ellie recalls that day fondly a decade on: “It was a crucial they didn’t score and get back into the game, so I was really feeling the pressure! I tried to read the player and luckily I got it right and made the save. I couldn’t believe I saved it and that we actually had the chance to win my first cup final at the club.”
Win the Cup they certainly did, as goal scorer Ekins reflected at the time: “We started really well and I think we were the better side throughout the whole game…..when you’re taking penalties you’ve got to be confident, if you start changing your mind that’s when you miss so I just put it in the bottom right corner.
Both clubs have enjoyed success in the intervening ten years, both now ply their trade in the fourth tier FA Women’s National League Division 1 South West. For the Magpies, five players – Alex Dover, Amy Saunders, Kat Mace, Chrissy Nazif and Tina Brett – are still representing the club with distinction a decade on.