QPR LADIES booked their place in the Middlesex Women’s Senior Cup final thanks to a slender win over Enfield Town on Sunday.
Eartha Pond’s sublime first-half strike proved the match-winner as Rangers held off the challenge from their lower league opposition.
Martino Chevannes’ side could have made victory more comfortable but one goal proved decisive despite the R's spurning several late chances.
After last weekend’s abandoned league outing with Reading, the R’s were quick out of the blocks and were almost in front within three minutes.
Elly Maggs’ floated cross from the right found Sarah Staples bearing down on goal, but the midfielder’s half-volley was parried by visiting goalkeeper Lauren Holman. Maggs reacted quickest to the loose ball, stepping inside before dragging her effort narrowly wide from 12 yards.
Enfield responded to the early pressure by forcing a shooting opportunity of their own on nine minutes. Sheree Oliver tried her luck for the visitors but her drive from the edge of the area was well held by Sophie Cheadle. The R’s goalkeeper was called upon shortly after too, this time smothering Holly Brandon’s dangerous cross from the right by-line.
Rangers almost profited from Staples’ driven free-kick but, without an R’s shirt able to add a telling touch inside the goalmouth, the visitors survived.
At the other end, Katie Wilding’s flicked header released team-mate Regan Coleman. The Enfield striker looked favourite to net but her shot lacked power, trickling harmlessly past Cheadle’s far post.
The hosts made their opponents pay moments later as Rangers broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion. Holman’s weak clearance was pounced upon by Pond, who arrowed a 25-yard shot past the Enfield goalkeeper into the bottom corner.
The goal breathed fresh life into the Rangers attack, who came agonisingly close to doubling their tally ten minutes before the interval. Jade Dempster’s ball over the top found Staples one-on-one with Holman as the midfielder floated her effort over the Enfield goalkeeper but past the far post.
Chances proved harder to come by after the interval despite concerted pressure from Rangers in search of a second goal. It took until 68 minutes for a clear chance of note, when Pond could only volley over after being cleverly teed up from Staples’ corner.
Pond turned provider six minutes later as her jinking run down the left handed substitute Kasha Petit a gilt-edged chance to seal victory, as the winger toe-poked wide.
Pond was the creator once again shortly after, this time delivering a pinpoint through ball for Sophie Fogarty. The R’s midfielder controlled well but rushed the effort, blazing over from eight yards.
There was still time for one final chance from the hosts as Dempster also missed the target. The R’s skipper rose highest to meet Pond’s corner but her header flashed inches wide of the far post.
Rangers weren’t made to rue their wastefulness in front of goal, however, as they held firm in defence with the final whistle signalling a morale-boosting victory ahead of their return to league duties next weekend.
QPR LFC: Cheadle, Walker (S.Fogarty 46), McKenna, Staples, Marsh, Dempster (c), Thomson (Petit 69), Maggs, Popovich (O’Leary 57), Pond, Bytyqi.