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09:30 3rd May 2013

by @OfficialQPR

R's goalkeeper nets in dramatic cup final defeat ...

STAND-IN goalkeeper Eartha Pond's remarkable free-kick couldn't prevent QPR Ladies suffering extra-time heartache in a pulsating Middlesex Senior Cup final on Thursday.

Rangers twice came from behind to force an additional 30 minutes before Barnet's last-gasp winner broke the R’s resistance at Uxbridge FC.

Kasha Petit levelled the scores before set-piece specialist Pond repeated the feat, striding forward from goal to find the net from 20 yards.

Rangers created chances to complete the comeback but penalties seemed destined to separate the sides until the Bees' 118th-minute decider ensured one final twist.

Manager Martino Chevannes was handed a double blow in the build-up to kick-off as striker Katie O’Leary failed a late fitness test while R's number one Sophie Cheadle dropped to the bench after failing to recover from a hamstring injury sustained prior to Sunday’s game with Lewes.

Pond – originally named amongst the R’s midfield – deputised between the sticks once again but was beaten within nine minutes.

Bees striker Stacey Sowden burst through the R’s backline before firing emphatically past Pond into the bottom corner to hand Lydia Bedford’s side the early advantage.

The R’s stand-in keeper was called upon two minutes later, though, saving well from Vanna Lee’s speculative volley.

Rangers slowly forced their way back into the tie as twice Kim Meadows was denied a route on goal by Megan Wordingham as the Bees goalkeeper raced out of her goal to clear the danger.

An equaliser was forthcoming, though, as Sophie Fogarty’s perfectly weighted ball over the Bees backline released Petit. The R’s winger fought off the challenge from her marker before coolly stroking the ball past Wordingham to level the scores shortly after the half-hour mark.

Petit’s strike was the catalyst for a stirring end to the half as Rangers finished the stronger of the two sides.

Elly Maggs was inches away from a quick-fire second as her looping volley bounced inches wide before Fogarty’s deft flick over the goalkeeper was cleared off the line by a covering Barnet defender.

Another goalmouth scrambe in first-half injury time led to another chance as first Maggs saw a shot blocked before Fogarty fired the rebound over with the final kick of an absorbing opening 45 minutes.

Rangers couldn’t quite match the intensity after the re-start as Barnet regained control. Sowden threatened a second goal but she could only drag a shot wide from 10 yards.

The Bees were to net with their next attack on 64 minutes, though, as Pond failed to hold Holly Sandon’s dangerous free-kick. After a first effort was blocked, the ball fell kindly for Leanne Reidy to fire in the rebound.

Rangers rallied for an immediate response and almost found one through Fogarty, whose low shot was well smothered by Wordingham.

Chevannes threw caution to the wind in search of a late leveller - bolstering his attack with the addition of Kirsten Thomson off the bench – but had the woodwork to thank for keeping the R's hopes alive. 

Chontelle Lawrence fought her way through but was denied by Pond’s excellent reflexes, tipping her fierce shot onto the inside of the post.

Pond took centre stage in dramatic scenes with three minutes left on the clock as Rangers won a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Pond was ushered forward by the R’s coaching team before rewarding them in style, firing a shot towards goal which found its way through the hands of her opposite number to set up a grandstand finish.

Four minutes of injury time followed in a frenetic end to proceedings before the final whistle signalled an additional 30 minutes of extra-time, when Rangers remained on the frontfoot as Staples twice tried her luck from distance only to see her shots flash wide of the target.

Barnet threatened early in the second period as a free-kick whistled agonisingly past Pond’s near post.

There was to be one final twist as Barnet grabbed the fifth goal of the game with just two minutes remaining. Sowden’s run down the right set up an easy chance for Trimnell, converting the low cross from five yards to break Rangers hearts.

Barnet faced one final scare though as Rangers carved out a gilt-edged chance in the dying moments. Cooper’s knock-down fell kindly for Staples through on goal but the R’s midfielder rushed her effort, slashing the shot wide with virtually the last action of an incredible 120 minutes of football.

QPR: Pond, Bytyqi (Ishmael 63), McKenna, Staples (Walker 120), Gover, Dempster, Meadows (Thomson 78), Maggs, Cooper, S.Fogarty, Petit.

Images courtesy of Colin Evans.

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