It was a nail-biting, thrilling, and all-round entertaining match of football that had everything a football fan could ask for, especially if you are a Seaforth FC fan.
A 1-1 draw after 90 minutes led to extra time which still could not separate BTH and Seaforth. After another 30 minutes of play and a 2-2 result it was penalties that saw Seaforth FC raise the cup after a 3-0 penalty shootout for the first time in their club history.
The tone of the match was set from the first whistle. Both teams started strong, and it was made clear to the crowd that they were about to witness a show.
Seaforth managed to hold possession in the opening minutes, stringing passes across the pitch they looked calm and in control.
An early attack from Seaforth’s Sophie Larsen heard the Seaforth crowd roar however it was the BTH fans who cheered first when Jesse Wharepouri put her name on the scoreboard.
As BTH broke towards the goal Seaforth’s keeper, Kierly Wiggins, had no option but to come out of the box and contest the tackle.
An unfortunate and unlucky handball from Wiggins found BTH with a free kick just out of the box and in front of goal in the 19th minute.
Anna McGregor stepped up, and step up she did. A perfectly placed shot found Wharepouri who gently helped the ball find the back of the net.
With BTH one nil up Seaforth knew it was time to respond. As the 34th minute came around Seaforth were rewarded a free kick and an opportunity to level the game.
Emily Wood took that opportunity with both hands as her free kick dropped into the goal.
The score remined unchanged until the end of the 90 minutes, however it didn’t mean the game was short on entertainment.
Another free kick to Seaforth in the 59th minute nearly saw them take the lead. Not long after BTH’s Grace Arnold shot down the wing however the ball skimmed across the face of the goal.
As the full-time whistle blew the scoreboard read 1-1 and so extra time was called.
BTH capitalised on the extra minutes first, a header from Annabel Ritchie off a corner put BTH in the lead.
An immediate response from Seaforth saw Amber Hartmann bring her team back into the game as a scramble in the box saw the ball fall into the net.
After 120 minutes of play and a 2-2 draw it was penalties that would decide the champion.
Seaforth coach Chris Wood pulled an “Arnie” swapping his keeper out in the final minutes of extra time in preparation of the incoming shootout.
With Seaforth placing their first two shots and BTH unable to convert, Seaforth went up 2-0.
BTH stepped up to the spot knowing they needed the goal; however, Seaforth’s keeper lived up to her Andrew Redmayne moment and popped the shot over the bar keeping BTH to nil.
Eleanor Owen was next for Seaforth. She stood at the spot knowing that this could be the moment her team wins the Challenge Cup.
Slotting the ball pass the keeper the 2022 Challenge Cup champions were decided.
“To win it on penalties was unbelievable, the best way to win but also the hardest, just a great feeling” Wood said.
“It was a rollercoaster; you think you’re going to win do it in the 90 and then the momentum keeps swinging and changing.”
BTH coach Ash Mathieson also felt the range of emotions.
“The game could have been over in 90 minutes for either side, but we played 120 and then penalties” Mathesion said.
“It is a hard way to lose but at least we put on a good spectacle for the crowd and for the Women’s Premier League.
“Full marks to Seaforth they’re the benchmark but in our first year we’re not too far behind.
“I’m just super proud of the girls and these types of games will give them some experience playing on Cromer Park 1 and in front of a big crowd.”
Wood also could not be prouder of his squad and what they have achieved for their club.
“Some of the girls played 120 minutes and then stepped up to take a penalty.
“They are just a great group of girls; they work hard every week and are just a great team.
“It is a great day for the club” Wood said.