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Whoever takes on the Croit Lowey hot seat since Roger Mulligan's resignation will be a hard act to follow, as Rushen Utd were simply breathtaking in the Isle of Man Floodlit Cup Group B match, cruising to a 5-1 win over Gymnasium in the pouring rain with arguably their best performance of the season, despite only starting with ten players.
With Natalie Swales reading each danger with immaculate precision and Kirsty Qualtrough having the confidence to venture out of defence and provide the platform, it was the midfield axis of Eleanor Gawne and Hannah Biggerstaff ensured that their football flowed, with the surrounding players always providing options, it would take a brave person to bet against them to retain this trophy. But arguably one of the best players on the pitch was Gymnasium goalkeeper Emily Winterton, who continues to win rave reviews for her performances between the sticks and with her expert anticipation and handling, she went onto produce a number of class saves.
Mark Reid's side made the numerical advantage count from the kick off and mustered the first opportunity when Sam Franklyn was freed by Dawn Quinn's pass before steering an effort just wide off the upright. But Rushen were beginning to settle into their game plan which witnessed efforts from Gawne that hit the side netting and Winterton claim a dangerous, swerving cross from Becky Watterson. Although Franklyn had to be replaced before the half hour mark, it was her team which took the lead shortly afterwards. Gerry Thomson awarded the first of two penalties from which Dawn Quinn steered her effort into the top right corner for the opening goal.
Rushen weren't to be denied for much longer and grabbed their leveller before the oranges. Hannah Biggerstaff's pass found Donna Harrison, who jigged and deceived her marker before thrusting home into the bottom right.
Gymnasium were caught napping at the beginning of the second half and the southerners took full advantage. Winterton pulled off classy saves from Harrison and Gawne but she was helpless when Rushen took the lead for the first time in this match. Harrison turned provider on this occasion, squaring the ball for Fleming to place her effort into the back of the net.
Although Mark Reid's side came close to equalising, Kim Carney forced a good save from Rose Ozga, they were for periods defending too deep again and forced a number of errors which resulted in them conceding a penalty. Gawne duly obliged from the spot, driving her effort low for Rushen's third.
Their fourth, moments later, was the move and the goal of the match. Gawne's pass from midfield found Fleming, whose lay off opened up the Gymnasium defence, finding Harrison in space to fire home a spectacular effort. Harrison returned the compliment for their fifth, her pass freed Gawne to fire home and complete the scoring.
But the Tromode side were by no means finished and missed a litany of chances as the match came to a close. Efforts from Suzie Maiden and Kim Carney drew saves from Rose Ozga and the two players combined later on, the former seizing on a rare lapse from the Rushen keeper, her effort trickling towards goal but Qualtrough was alert to clear the danger.
Colby bounced back to winning ways after two consecutive defeats by defeating Michael Utd 4-0 at the QEII astro. Nikki Cooil maintained her impressive goalscoring streak with Colby's first, cutting in from the right before firing home. Emma Gill made it 2-0 - her first goal for the club - applying the touch across goal after connecting from a centre originating on the left before Cooil scored again before half time after waltzing through the defence before finding the net. Claire Scott notched Colby's remaining goal with an effort from the left which outfoxed goalkeeper Jo Callister before it nestled in at the far post.
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