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"We only need ten players" could be Douglas Royal's new chant as they went to beat Rushen Utd in the tenth Isle of Man Floodlit Cup Final, 2-1 in extra time at the NSC last Sunday.
In doing so, they have now become the most successful club within this competition with manager Brian Cowin scooping all three major honours after being in charge for only a season and a half.
Like previous Floodlit Cup finals, it had its talking points. In the early stages of the second half, goalkeeper Sam Jordan became the first player to be dismissed in a Final. In the first half, the ball flicked off a Royal player, Donna Harrison sneaked in behind and clean through but was wrongly ruled offside when the score was 1-0 to the southerners. From the resulting free kick, Leanne Ashe controversially equalised.
Omens were looking towards a Rushen Utd victory as the Noble's Park outfit were without Ceri Purvis, Donna Shimmin and their regular goalkeeper Kerri Williams. But sadly, this match was far from a classic. For long periods both teams were too predictable and lacked any shape, hurryingly dinking ball through the middle, only Royal's Bekki Cole provided any telling width.
Neither side could find any sort of footballing rhythm with opportunities created limited to half chances. The omens started to ring true when Rushen Utd took the lead after 14 minutes. Donna Harrison provided the perfecting, telling through ball for Gawne who raced into space and stabbed past Jordan.
However the southern advantage only lasted for four minutes. Jordan's long free kick landed behind an unprepared opposing back line, where Leanne Ashe collected and chipped over a stranded Elizabeth Stanley to level matters.
With the game still struggling to spark into life, Rushen Utd were handed an excellent advantage after Royal were reduced to ten players shortly after the restart. The ball looped and Jordan dropped and handled outside the area. Referee Richard McLauchlan marched over and flourished a red card and Karen Faragher took on the responsibility of goalkeeper. From the resulting free kick, Gawne clipped the upright. However Rushen Utd lacked the desire or the adventure to finish the job and at times tactically na´ve, on one occasion all four defenders were marking one white shirt.
With opportunities still restricted to half chances and sliced shots, the southerners could have stolen victory before full time. Harrison led the charge with Gawne running into space, she received possession and rounded Faragher with Andrea Lace making a goal line clearance.
The match entered extra time and with only two minutes left and a penalty shootout looming, Vicky Worthington would etch herself into Douglas Royal women's folklore. Kym Hicklin barged into the opposing half finding Sarah Breen, her precision pass found the Royal striker and, with Stanley off her line, picked her spot and rolled the ball into the bottom right corner, sending White shirts into a celebration frenzy.
Rushen launched one last throw of the dice. Gawne raced into vacated space following a ball over the top but Faragher raced and cleared at the precise moment. A minute later, McLauchlan blew his whistle that that was the cue for Royal to crack open the champagne and toast another famous victory.
Douglas Royal: Sam Jordan, Andrea Lace, Tracey Craige, Leanne Ashe, Orna Lynch, Karen Faragher, Bekki Cole, Kym Hicklin, Mary Wilson (sub Philomena Kerin 63mins), Vicky Worthington, Sarah Breen. Sub not used: Linda Caine.
Rushen Utd: Elizabeth Stanley, Rochelle O'Toole, Katie Stopford, Natalie Swales, Zoe Hawley (sub Janine Simpson 36mins), Hannah Biggerstaff, Becky Watterson, Eleanor Gawne, Hannah Griffiths, Donna Harrison, Hayley Cowin.
In the resumption of the league, Laxey secured an 8-0 victory over Michael Utd, the Balleira Road outfit starting with only 9 players. Alexis Teare headed home following a corner, Dawn Winn driving home into the roof of the net for their second. Sarah Houghton netted after the break from another corner, Kelly Barlow trickling home their fourth. Houghton completed her hat-trick connecting from two Kerry Lockwood corners and she netted again with a looped effort for their seventh. Barlow completed the scoring, capitalising from a goalkeeping fumble.
Castletown beat their southern rivals Colby 3-0 despite the Glen Road outfit fielding only nine players. Donna Ashworth headed home their first goal of the Stuart Butterworth regime following Sarah Denny's corner and she found the net for their second after collecting Denny's pass. Ashworth turned provider for their third before full time, her diagonal shot was parried for substitute Jane Coulthurst to slot home.
Corinthians' Anna Dillon put on a footballing masterclass, inspiring the Whites to an 8-0 win over Peel. Jade Burden's through ball put Dillon clear to net the first and she turned provider in a one-two, setting up Sarah Kerford for their second. Kerford made it 3-0 after the break with Lauren Christian driving home their fourth. Dillon exorcised the demons from last weekend by netting a penalty after being brought down and she then scored the goal of the game, beating two players and driving home. Burden netted the seventh, following up a goalkeeping parry with Kerford netting a low shot from the left, completing a hat-trick and the scoring.
(Report by Paul Hatton)
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