Durham Cestria are toasting a season of success – after lifting the Durham County FA Women’s Cup on Wednesday evening.
The side – coached by Dan Jowett, Michael Third and Nathan Harrison – ran out 7-0 winners over Sunderland West End to ensure their name would be on the trophy for the second successive year.
Ellen Turnbull netted a hat-trick with strikes from Jordan Atkinson, Lily Crosthwaite, Amy Richardson and Megan Elliott sealing the victory.
There were further chances for the side to extend the margin of victory, but the performance left manager Jowett more than pleased.
“At the start of the season we set a number of objectives,” he explained.
“These included finishing in the top three for our first full season in the Women’s National League; play stylish, high quality, and exciting football; continuing the progression of players into or around Durham Women; and, of course, winning the County Cup.
“To be able to finish the season and know to have met all these objectives is a fantastic achievement for the staff and players.
“What might have seemed as an easy win on the night, was actually the result of hard work during the whole season, including a 2-0 semi-final win against a tough Norton team.
“Throughout the ups and downs of the season, this current crop of players have been a joy to work with and they deserve all the success they get.”
Hat-trick heroine Turnbull added: “Retaining the County Cup has been a goal of ours since the start of the season, so we’re ecstatic to have achieved that.
“Sunderland West End are a physical team and they battled us hard for the full 90, but I think the quality in our team shone through. The final is obviously an exciting event to be involved in and one I thoroughly enjoyed.”
And her view were echoed by captain Jen Knowles, who had the honour of lifting the trophy for the second time.
“We set out some aims as a squad and retaining the County Cup was one of the important ones for us so it was great to achieve that.
“We’ve been playing some of our best football in the last few league games so we went into the cup final in good form. We continued that form and were 3-0 up within 20 minutes then went on to dominate the game with some really good team goals.”
The cup triumph was accompanied by a third-place finish in the FA Women’s National League Northern Division One, which is Cestria’s best finish in the league for a number of years – and saw the team achieve their pre-season target.
There were numerous highs along the way, including a remarkable comeback to draw 5-5 at Leeds United early in the season and big wins over FC United of Manchester, Stockport County and Chorley as the season drew to an end.
And with the summer approaching, hopes are now high for another strong campaign in 2022/23.
“It’s been a great end to the season for us, given it’s been our first proper uninterrupted season together as a squad,” said Turnbull.
“We’ve really shown what we’re capable of just as the season draws to a close. We will have our goals set for next season and we’ll be ready to come out the blocks firing. I’m excited to see what we can achieve next time round.”
Lily Crosthwaite added: “Throughout the season as a whole, everyone has helped to push and support each other which makes it such a good environment to be around and only makes us want to improve further.
“Our team is so driven; wanting to keep on progressing all the time, so hopefully we are able to keep building from this point onwards together.”
And Grace Ayre commented: “I’ve loved every minute of the season with this team, and I can’t wait to push on and reach new targets next year!”