Norwich City Ladies have restated their goal to step up to a higher level after ending a season overshadowed by an injury crisis on a high note.

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After the young Canaries underlined their status as the county’s top ladies’ team by winning the Norfolk Women’s Cup with an emphatic 5-0 success over underdogs Thorpe United, manager Darren Moss said that stepping up to the National League was the number one goal.

Darren, who returned to take up the managerial reins this season after a five-year break, reflected: “It’s been a difficult season for us. We started really well. Pre-Christmas we won 10 out of 13 games but since then we have sustained horrendous injuries. We were second up until the end of February.”

He added: “We have finished fourth in the South East Combination and won the county cup so we have done reasonably well.”

The Canaries have been knocking on the door for promotion to the National League, finishing runners-up in their league last season, and have not been placed outside the top four for the last five years.

Moss, Norfolk FA’s girls and women’s football development officer, is determined to take the team, coached by Emma Fletcher and Scott Emmerson, a stage further. “It is important to us. It’s the next step. To have a football team in the National League would be great for the whole county.”

He said the team is set to go through a transition as developing talent emerges from the ranks.

“There are a number of young players coming through so we are going through a rebuild really.

“It’s a young squad – the average age is 18 – and we could really do with a couple of older heads.”

City Ladies put their casualty woes – which included captain Paige Shorten, centre half Kate Parsons and midfielder Jordan Arnup – behind them, as they eventually overwhelmed Thorpe United in Sunday’s final at Clipbush Park, Fakenham. They scored four goals in the final 17 minutes after Charlotte Branch gave them a 21st-minute lead. Branch, Chelsea Garrett (2) and Nadine Basson netted as Thorpe’s brave resistance gave way in the closing stages.

Thorpe manager Neil Ford thought the final scoreline gave a false impression of the match overall but was pleased with the way his team battled.

“We played Norwich Cty last year in the semi-final and we lost 8-0 so I suppose you could say we are getting closer to them but there is still a way to go to catch them up.”

Ford, who founded the team in 2008 with Ian Groves, his current assistant, has seen steady progress as the team has enjoyed title success in the Norfolk Women’s and Girls League and the Eastern Region League. This season, with three games still to play the Thorpe Rec-based outfit, captained by Rebecca Russell, are 8th in their first season in the Eastern Region Women’s Premier Division. They also reached the league cup semi-finals as well as the Norfolk Women’s Cup final for the first time this season. “The girls have done well. I am really proud of them,” said Ford. “We have a young squad and there is a high turnover of players because of the university situation. We could do with a couple more exeperienced players but we are making progress.”

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