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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 07:52 GMT
Women's FA Cup 2000
Croydon: Women's FA Cup winners 2000
After 10 rounds of drama, heartache and elation it was Croydon who proved worthy winners of the first Women's FA Cup of the new millennium.

An increased number of entrants on previous years saw 72 teams take part, from holders Arsenal through to the romantically titled Lichfield Diamonds, and so the addition of an extra round.

And for the first time in its history, the draw for the Women's FA Cup was made live on national radio under the guidance of David Davies.

Northern Division outfit Bradford City were shocked in the third round as they fell to North West Division Two's Trafford Ladies.

From the same division, Leeds United were making their mark in gripping fashion, dumping the previous year's semi-finalists Southampton Saints in the fifth round stage to make it through to the last four for the first time in their history.

Gill Wylie and Pauline Cope
Croydon captain Gill Wylie and 'keeper Pauline Cope lift the cup.

Arsenal's attempts to retain the trophy were thwarted by the Belles in a thrilling semi-final clash at Mansfield where, under the scrutiny of the television cameras, the Yorkshire side overturned a 2-1 deficit to eventually win the tie 3-2.

In the other semi-final, Croydon were seeing off the admirable challenge of Leeds United to claim their place in the last two for the third time in five years. And so on to Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United, and a mouthwatering final between the league's two top teams.

Under the watchful eye of England coach Kevin Keegan, Croydon took the first step along the road to what would prove to be a memorable double as Doncaster's plans to use home advantage to spoil the party fell on rocky ground.

Pauline Cope
Penalty saved: Croydon 'keeper Pauline Cope

Despite making the early running, with AXA's Players' Player-of-the-Year Karen Walker hugely influential, the Belles found themselves trailing after 25 minutes through a powerful header from Carmaine Walker.

Vicki Exley cancelled out the Surrey side's advantage with a well-taken header but minutes after spurning their chance to take the lead from the penalty spot, the Doncaster defence was cleverly breached by Gemma Hunt who looped the ball home to add yet more silverware to the Croydon trophy cabinet.

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