Women's football 1st XI St AndrewsSt Andrews Women’s 1st football team were narrowly beaten 4-2 by Edinburgh’s Telford College in a thrilling encounter in Tuesday evening’s Scottish Student Sport cup final.

The importance of the match led to a high-intensity encounter, which the girls coped with admirably despite the tough opposition. In the first fifteen minutes both goals were peppered with long-distance efforts, as both sides tested out their opposing keepers.

The first big chance fell to St Andrews, following a great run from Anahit Mkrtchian, who showed strength and skill to cushion the ball and bring it round the challenge of a defender out wide. She darted inside before laying the ball off to a teammate inside the penalty area. The Edinburgh defence was swift to close her down, however, forcing an unsuccessful pass across the area which ended the promising move.

With both keepers, and both sets of defenders, performing well it required a stroke of luck to break the deadlock, and fortune swung St Andrews’ way as the clearance came back to St Andrews. A lovely ball was threaded through the Edinburgh defence by Sammi McKee to striker Greta Joy, who despite being quickly closed down by the keeper and a Telford defender managed to chip the ball over the keeper and into the empty net.

Celebrations were slightly muted as Telford’s keeper was injured in the collision with Joy and the defender. After a period of treatment she gingerly got back to her feet and was thankfully able to continue.

The lead proved to be short-lived as Edinburgh immediately went in search of an equaliser, finding one in an exceptional manner, with their left-back leathering the ball into the corner of the net past Ellie Welton.

If St Andrews were shocked by the speed of the equaliser, they were distraught by the speed of Telford’s second goal, a fine lob over the hapless Welton giving Telford a 2-1 lead, just minutes after going 1-0 down.

After this quick succession of goals the game really heated up, with both teams conceding numerous free-kicks. St Andrews stuck to their tactics, with Pamela London, Anahit Mkrtchian and Greta Joy linking up well. The standout performance of the first half came undoubtedly from Mkrtchian, who controlled the long balls directed towards her time and again, often managing to lay it off to a supporting teammate. Her tenacity won a free-kick 30 yards out from goal with ten minutes of the first half remaining, but the Saints were unable to convert.

Despite St Andrews’ pressure, Telford were deadly on the counter attack, and scored their third of the game with a 35-yard screamer which the St Andrews keeper could do nothing about, making the score 3-1 going into half-time.

Shortly after the beginning of the second-half, Telford extended their lead to 4-1  after cross onto the box was only half cleared and their striker leaped to head the ball home.

The Saints were not about to give in, however – just last month they came back from two goals down in the BUCS Conference Cup final and went on to win the game on penalties. This fighting spirit made for an excellent second half with both teams fighting furiously for the victory.

The Saints deservedly pulled one back mid way through second-half from the penalty spot, Greta Joy bagging her second goal of the game from 12 yards. The Saints made some substitutions; it was the last game for some leavers and they came off to a heartfelt applause from the numerous spectators who had come to support the Saints.

Both teams continued to push, not holding back, and although Telford came out on top and deservedly claimed the trophy, it was a fantastic advert for women’s football and the Saints can be very proud of knowing they gave it their all. The final score was 4-2.

Captain Marie Morrison said after the game: “Since I have been at St Andrews, this has been the best season Women’s football has had and I’m so proud of how far this amazing team has come since pre-season, competing in two Cup finals (finding victory in one) and finishing second in our league.

“It is also incredible and inspiring how much the club has grown as a whole this year. Overall, it was a great example of the level of play we have reached and a strong finish to the season.”

You can follow the club’s progress on Facebook (www.facebook.com/USAWFC) or Twitter (@StsFootballW).

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