Warehouse Fitness Women’s League - 17/3/2013
Douglas Royal 2 – Corinthians 4 (HT 1-1)
(Shimmin pen, Breen) (O’Reilly, Burden 2, McCann)
Corinthians Ladies clinched a Fourth consecutive league title on Sunday Afternoon when defeating fierce rivals Douglas Royal, extending their unbeaten league run to an incredible 48 games in the process, stretching back as far as October 2009!
After a stalemate in the recent floodlit cup final required a penalty shootout to settle things in favour of Royal, we were set for a far more open affair in the latest old firm Ballafletcher Derby, Corinthians having a 3-1 advantage from the first league meeting back in October meant Royal had to score at least twice to have any chance of the crown given the distinct possibility that the head to head results could determine the title outcome due to both sides dominance over the rest of the division.
Corinthians manager Michael Quilliam certainly didn’t have any intent of shutting up shop however as an adventurous 4-3-3 formation began the game, albeit with the surprise omission of top scorer Jade Burden, whom after 6 weeks out serving a 3 game suspension took her place on the bench. The team however featured 3 sixteen year olds the latest offering from the youth academy production line, including debutant Casey Halsall just two days after her birthday.
It was the home side who had the better of the opening exchanges as the central defensive pairing of Steph Hall and Jenna McStay took time to settle under the threat from Donna Shimmin and Leanne Ashe. The reigning champions soon cleared their lines however and after 8 minutes the visitors won a corner to right of the Royal goalmouth. In a move fashioned on the training ground Sarah O’Reilly played the ball short to fullback Leanne Prescott who calmly set the ball into the path of the over-lapping O’Reilly whom took it in her stride before unleashing an unstoppable trademark left foot 25 yard strike into the top right corner of the net for 1-0, Irish eyes were smiling on Paddy’s Day.
The game ebbed and flowed from end to end with Royal refusing to lie down, as the battle continued with Referee Tommy Crowe stamping his authority on the game awarding a number of free kicks either way hence stopping in its tracks any traits from previous encounters that had spoilt a sporting spectacle. One such free kick from the hosts was partly cleared by Hall and intercepted by Bekki Cole who sped down the right flank and fired a low cross into the box, McStay slid in to block, the ball inadvertently struck her hand seeing the Referee point to the spot. Shimmin drove the resulting penalty just out of reach of Rose Ozga’s despairing dive to level at 1-1. The half petered out with neither side having much end product in the final third, Kiera Morgan being adjudged offside after some good exchanges with Lisa Costain as the interval approached. Royal Captain Kym Hicklin in commanding form at the back.
The resumption saw the introduction of Burden at the spearhead of the attack, this immediately gave Hicklin and counterpart Andrea Lace plenty to deal with, as it soon paid dividends just six minutes in. Good work from Melissa Bell and the busy Anna Dillon carved an opening for Burden’s powerful run forward bursting through the Royal rearguard before taking the ball round the advancing keeper Kerri Williams to slot home from a tight angle and celebrate in style if not so ladylike.
This was the catalyst for Corinthians to step up a gear and now dominate proceedings in a spell that brought numerous chances for Burden, Dillon again creator only for the striker to first hit the feet and then the hands of Williams, efforts also reigned in from Dillon and the superb Prescott. Royal offered some resilience when Sarah Breen played in Shimmin whose venomous strike rattled the crossbar, Ozga searching for the rebound was grateful as Shelley Simpson and O’Reilly combined to clear, starting another attack, seeing Hicklin pull back Burden before being cautioned for the offence. O’Reilly’s ball over the top found Burden who raced clear this time making no mistake as she again rounded Williams to tap home into an empty net for 3-1.
As fatigue set in changes for the whites saw yet another sixteen year old in Chloe Fick enter the fray along with Zoe McCann the latter scoring the fourth with a great low drive from the edge of the box after the tireless Prescott pulled the ball back from the by-line, seeing “Nolene” strike her first goal after many years away from football.
Royal got a consolation goal in the dying minutes when the loose ball broke for Breen to stab home from close range following Cole’s corner. But it was another title for the Superwhites when Mr Crowe blew for time on an excellent hard fought competitive game. The sides will perhaps meet once more in the FA Cup but first they must negotiate their respective ever improving quarter final opponents Peel and Castletown this weekend. Completing the quarter final line up is Colby v Gymns and Laxey v DHSOB.
Douglas Royal – Kerri Williams, Zoe Hawley, Andrea Lace, Kym Hicklin, Sam Jordan, Sarah Breen, Siobhan Lockwood, Bekki Pate, Bekki Cole, Leanne Ashe, Donna Shimmin
Corinthians – Rose Ozga, Shelley Simpson, Jenna McStay (Chloe Fick), Sarah O’Reilly, Leanne Prescott, Steph Hall, Melissa Bell, Anna Dillon, Lisa Costian (Zoe MaCann), Casey Halsall (Jade Burden), Kiera Morgan
Referee – Tommy Crowe Assistants – Mark Thomas, Winston Taylor
Player of the Match – Leanne Prescott (Corinthians)
Match Rating ****