Essex County Cup glory awaits for West Ham Ladies despite departure of manager Mark Saunderson

West Ham Ladies are 90 minutes away from Essex County Cup glory after seeing off C&K Basildon in a semifinal penalty shoot-out.

The match finished 1-1 after extra time, with an early Lily Mellors strike being cancelled out just seconds later by a headed Basildon equaliser.

However, the Hammers emerged victorious after ‘keeper Lauren Picton saved two penalties in the shoot-out and defender Danica Revell notched the winning spot-kick to put the Ladies through.

Speaking to Blowing Bubbles after the game, Danica said: “I wasn’t nervous about taking the penalty. I was just excited that if I scored then we would go through.

“I have never really taken penalties before and this was the first time I had taken one in a penalty shootout. I think some of the others might have been a bit nervous about me, a defender, taking one but I knew where I was going and confident I’d score because we had practised them before and I always go the same way.

“Now we have got a cup final to look forward to and we are all buzzing for it. It’s going to be a great game and I really can’t wait because it has been a tough season for me.

“I was out for a little while because I had an operation on my foot and then when I came back we had the break over Christmas and didn’t play for ages because of the weather.

“It has also been tough because I have always played with Rosey (Sullivan) so when she left, I had to adapt to playing next to other centre backs. I’ve been playing with Hayley (West) and Jemma (Beard) and we are starting to build good partnerships.”

The only sour note from the cup semi-final was an injury to skipper Stacey Little which forced the midfielder off the field after just 15 minutes. However, a hospital scan revealed that the injury is not as bad as first feared and Little has a fighting chance of leading the Ladies out in the final.

The Irons, who remain under the joint management of coach Steve Spence and director of football Julia Setford after Mark Saunderson’s resignation last week, will now take on local rivals Barking in the final, which will be played at AFCHornchurch on 17 April.

Mark Saunderson’s departure came after a largely frustrating season so far which has seen the Hammers win just three games out of 12 in the FA Women’s Premier League South.

A club statement, released ahead of the Ladies’ County Cup clash against Colchester United on March 3, read: “We announce with regret that the first team manager, Mark Saunderson has left the club with immediate effect. After speaking with the chairman it was decided that it would be best for both parties and the chairman accepted Mr Saunderson resignation.”

The Ladies returned to Premier League action last Sunday and they lost to Charlton Athletic.

The Hammers are scheduled to take on Keynsham Town and Brighton & Hove Albion at home in the league on March 23 and 30 respectively.

The Ladies play their home games at Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Grays, Essex, RM19 1YN.

By David Blackmore

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