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Just when the Isle of Man league title was beginning to become a two horse race between the Corinthians and Douglas Royal, Natasha Robinson's winning strike - her first of the season - gave a timely reminder that Rushen Utd are still very much in it with a 2-1 win over Corinthians.
But it was unsung heroines of the Rushen back line that deserve real credit. Becky Watterson, Kirsty Qualtrough, Janine Simpson and Rochelle O'Toole, soaking up spells of Corinthians' pressure like a wet sponge, and their goalkeeper Elizabeth Stanley who pulled off a number of class saves.
With both teams probing and looking to find the openings, all through balls were collected by the respective goalkeepers. Corinthians for the first half hour did not function, Rushen making in-roads, keeping possession in the opposing half. This promising spell for the home side was rewarded with a goal. A cross from Donna Harrison on the left was collected by Sarah O'Reilly, the Corinthians captain thought she had outwitted the lurking Gawne, the Rushen midfielder robbed her of possession and drove an angled drive into the back of the net.
Cue the wake-up call for Corinthians! O'Reilly bent a free-kick round the defensive wall that was met by Stanley's raised palms and later on, Jade Burden found an opening on the right and crossed, Leonie Roberts bundling the goalkeeper and the ball into the net a la Nat Lofthouse but the goal wasn't given. Yet Rushen could have extended their lead further, Hayley Cowin sliced an effort wide and Katie Halsall's angled run and shot was met with Quirk's body.
Corinthians continued to venture forward, forcing a number of corners, Roberts was thwarted by a save from Stanley but she was hapless in preventing the equaliser. A cross from the left went into the area, the ball spun off Robinson's boot and Roberts nipped in ahead to thrust home from six yards and level matters before half time.
Corinthians then went onto dominate the most of second half and it was like deja-vu from the Floodlit Cup Final last season, Rushen defending for their lives and the Whites pouring forward, creating chances and not converting. Yet again, Stanley was their nemesis, thwarting the opposing attack.
The visitors found more openings, twice Burden was in the clear only to be denied by the legs of Stanley who moments later tipped an effort over the crossbar and Roberts skewed an effort wide Yet Rushen had occasional attacking spells from which they scored the winner. With Halsall springing the counter attack and Simpson having the confidence to push forward, her cross from the right caused confusion in the Corinthians' defence with Gawne in the vicinity, the ball fell into the path of Robinson who floated her effort into the top right corner for the winner.
However, Corinthians were given a glorious opportunity to get something from this fixture. Holmes cut in, charging from the right and homing in onto the opposing goal before being brought down by the full-back O'Toole. Penalty! Responsibility was thrust on O'Reilly's young shoulders and rather than to aim at the corners, she fired it straight down the middle at Stanley to save and ensure maximum points went to Rushen.
Castletown secured their sixth win of the season by defeating Michael Utd 7-1. Star of the show yet again was Sarah Denny who scored five times. However, things didn't go according to the script when the visitors scored first, Sarah Bell converting following a scramble from a corner. A minute later, Castletown equalised, Denny driving home a left footed 18-yard strike. Wendy Gurney's sidefooted effort following a Stacey Kelly through ball gave the Reds the lead and they scored their second via Kylie Whitehouse's angled volley. Denny converted her second on 39 minutes following Kim Watson's cross and she completed a first half hat-trick two minutes later with a volleyed strike. In the second half, Denny sidefooted home to make it 6-1 following Watson's pass and Castletown were awarded a penalty five minutes later, Denny driving her effort against the bar. However she made no mistake on 71 minutes, rounding the goalkeeper to slot home and complete the scoring.
In the remaining match, Peel went on to beat Ramsey 4-0, Emma Faulkner (2), Vanessa Roberts and Claudia Konig were on target for the westerners.
Photo - Corinthians' Jade Burden (left) is closely monitored by Rochelle O'Toole of Rushen Utd (Report and Photo - Paul Hatton)
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