Knibbs nabs three as Balby Carr win national title

Balby Carr celebrate victory in the ECFA League play off final against Gateshead at Bramall Lane.
Balby Carr celebrate victory in the ECFA League play off final against Gateshead at Bramall Lane.

JENNY Knibbs grabbed a hat trick as Balby Carr Girls sealed the ECFA League national title with a comfortable play off final victory over Gateshead.

Stacey Elliott and Beth Smith also netted in the 5-2 triumph at Bramall Lane.

Both sides came into the clash on the back of good wins in the semi finals at Lilleshall with Gateshead beating defending champions Filton College 4-2 while Balby edged past a strong Huddersfield outfit 4-3.

Gateshead piled the pressure on early and Beth Gardener rattled the bar with a headed effort.

But this only sparked Balby into life and they quickly took the lead when Knibbs turned smartly on the edge of the area and curled the ball into the far top corner.

Confidence began to grow in the Balby ranks and they turned to their passing game.

The second goal soon followed when Sophie Allott received a quickly taken free kick and delivered to the back post where Elliott guided the ball home.

Gateshead’s attempts to get a foot hold in the game were broken down by hard-working Balby who retained the two goal margin going into the break.

Balby looked for the killer blow early in the second half and a fine through ball from Natalie McHale found Knibbs who snatched her second.

Gateshead refused to lie down and soon pulled a goal back through Gardener who stole the ball from the feet of a defender.

A shaky five minutes followed and it took a superb double save from Katie Bailey to ease the nerves.

They were back on track soon after as Elliott cleverly sent a ball through to Knibbs who wrapped up her hat trick with a smart finish.

Kirstie Nicholls came off the bench and terrorised the tiring Gateshead defenders with her pace.

Nicholls also caused havoc for the Gateshead keeper as she darted into the box and was brought down, giving the referee no option but to award a penalty.

Smith stepped up and calmly slotted the ball home.

Codi Melia and Natalie McHale drew excellent saves from the Gateshead keeper as Balby threatened to run riot.

But the last scoring effort of the afternoon went to Gateshead’s Kiera Ramshaw who finished a dangerous ball from the left.

It did nothing to damped the Balby spirits as they proved their quality on the main stage.