Albion are the FA Women's Premier League National Champions
Natkiel 41, 68
SPORTING CLUB ALBION 2
- Brighton beat Sporting Club Albion to win the Women's Premier League Championship Play-Off Final
- Player of the Match Kate Natkiel scores a brace
- Sophie Perry and Amy Taylor add late goals
- The Seagulls can now win promotion to Women's Super League Two (WSL2), subject to meeting FA license requirements
Brighton & Hove Albion were crowned Women's Premier League National Champions after beating Sporting Club Albion 4-2 in a pulsating match at Adams Park, rounding off a fine season for the Premier League Southern Division Champions.
Kate Natkiel’s double either side of half-time cancelled out Leigh Dugmore’s opener, before Sophie Perry and Amy Taylor added to the scoreline to make it 4-1.
Karen Clough scored a late consolation for Albion’s opponents to make the final score 4-2 to George Parris's side.
Brighton made the brighter start, with Amy Taylor testing Rebecca Thomas early on, shooting on goal from a tight angle following Sophie Perry’s perfectly weighted through-ball.
Lucy Somes then tried her luck from long range, looping an optimistic effort just over the crossbar from 25 yards, nearly catching Thomas off her line.
Sporting then had their first chance of the game, when Abigail Cottam headed just over following Dugmore’s cross, but the Baggies were clinical with their following attempt that opened the scoring.
Albion unconvincingly cleared a Sporting corner, before Hazzana Parnell sent the ball back into the penalty area, where Dugmore was on hand to head past Faye Baker and break the deadlock.
The Baggies’ strike partnership of Dugmore and Cottam was proving a handful for Albion’s defence, with the latter cutting inside and unleashing a firm effort that hit Baker’s upright, before being cleared away from danger.
Taylor then shot harmlessly wide from distance, as the Seagulls worked hard to create something in front of goal and recover from their early setback.
Albion needed a moment of magic and that’s exactly what they got shortly before the half-time whistle, as Kate Natkiel picked up the ball centrally inside the Sporting half, before unleashing an unstoppable strike from 25 yards into the top corner.
The ball then sat up nicely for Hollie Olding in a similar position, but the midfielder was unable to replicate Natkiel’s stunning effort and the teams went in at the break on level terms.
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Sporting came agonisingly close to retaking the lead when the teams returned, when Paige Crossman whipped the ball into Albion’s penalty area, only for a Trina Greaves volley to roll just wide of the upright.
Perry then wasted Albion’s best chance to take the lead, blazing a free-kick over the bar from just outside the Sporting penalty area, before Taylor’s close-range attempt was deflected wide of goal.
Albion continued to increase the pressure on their opponents and following a fortunate rebound off Taylor, Natkiel found herself through on goal and effortlessly slotted the ball past Thomas into the bottom corner to take the lead.
As the celebrations for Natkiel’s second goal began to die down, Albion were at it again following Perry’s well-executed free-kick that flew into the top corner of Thomas’s goal from just outside the box, swinging the game well in favour of the Seagulls.
Albion grew in confidence and added a fourth just minutes later, with Perry working space on the wing before crossing for Taylor, who stooped low and glanced a header past Thomas to open up a three-goal advantage.
Ellie Dorey and Lisa Fulgence were then introduced in place of Somes and Taylor, as Albion looked to freshen things up as the game entered the closing stages.
Sporting then gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 88th minute, as substitute Karen Clough prodded the ball past Baker from close range to set up a nervy finish for the Seagulls.
But it proved too late for the Northern Division Champions, as referee Anthony Tankard blew the full-time whistle and gave Albion a chance to claim a place in WSL.
ALBION: Baker; Boswell, Ashton-Jones, Cooper; Perry, Barton, Olding (Rowe 90+4), Young, Somes (Dorey 77); Natkiel, Taylor (Fulgence 86).
SUBS NOT USED: Wilson (GK), Leitch.
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