The captain scored five goals, with Laura Tobin and Ellen Thornton chipping in with the others, before the team – unbeaten in 18 league matches – were presented with the GMWFL Division 1 trophy following the match.
Salford started on the front foot in the fading evening light, and Chelsea Wharton picked out Phoebe Duckworth at the top of the area. Fresh from scoring four at the weekend, the winger aimed for the top left-hand corner, but caught the shot a bit too much and it dropped narrowly wide in the third minute.
Tattersall was next to test Charlotte Haywood, but as she has done countless times in previous encounters the Sale keeper produced a quick reaction save to keep Salford’s skipper out. That was followed in the 12th minute when a free kick was won on the left, Abby Bennett stepped up and played the ball into the area as a gust of wind picked it up and took it towards the top left-hand corner, but Haywood was alert and plucked the shot out of the air. Whether it was an intended shot on goal, only Bennett will be able to answer, but it would have been a special one for the midfielder.
Jess Duke in the Salford goal had a quiet opening 15 minutes, but was called into action when Sale won a free kick on the left. It was nudged in-field where a low drive came in, but it was at a comfortable height for Duke, and she did well to hang on.
Sale had done well so far to match Salford up, but a mix-up in communication at the back nearly gifted Salford an opening goal. Duckworth intercepted a pass out to left-back and took a touch before crossing the ball into the middle, but just before Tattersall could get a touch Haywood had raced off her line and slid the ball to safety.
It had been so far, so good, for the hosts but as the half hour mark approached they were beaten at the back by a quick break forward. Belle Ainscough raced into space on the right wing and whipped a ball into the six-yard box where Tobin was waiting in the right place to divert the cross past the diving Haywood to give the Lionesses the lead.
That certainly settled Shauna Duffy’s charges, and with 10 minutes to go until the break they doubled their advantage. This time a ball through the middle found it’s path to Tattersall who turned and ran round her marker before dispatching a shot into the bottom left-hand corner. There was barely time to register that before a near-carbon copy put Salford three goals to the good; a ball through the middle, Tattersall turned and shot more emphatically into the left-hand post.
Half Time: Sale Ladies 0-3 Salford City Lionesses
Undeterred by a resolute Sale side, the Lionesses led at the break owing to a belief in the system and hard work. When rare gaps did appear, they were quick to exploit, and composed in doing so.
With 45 minutes to go, the Lionesses set about their task in an economical manner. With the cup finals coming up there was no particular need to over-exert and in a roundabout way that settled Salford into a calm rhythm. Nevertheless, in the 51st minute Thornton ventured on a mazy run forward that took her into the area and after a shimmy to the left she cut in and hit a shot. As the net rippled there was a brief moment of wonder, had we just seen a goal of the season contender from a centre-back, until the ball rolled away at the side having come off the side netting. So close, but Thornton’s time would soon come…
First though, Pemberton had placed herself in excellent space on the left and delivered a great ball into Duckworth who took a shot on first time from just inside the area, but Haywood was again on her toes to keep that one out.
Pemberton’s deliveries had been spot on throughout the evening, and in the 57th minute she sent a pinpoint corner into the box from the left where Thornton arrived in good time to loop a head up and over Haywood, and under the bar, to make it 4-0.
It was a set-piece that had Sale at odds at the back, and the next one was fumbled by Haywood as she tried to block the cross away with the ball dropping at the feet of Nic Hamilton. The centre-back has been outstanding at the back, and this was her chance to open her account for the Lionesses but her stabbed shot was somehow cleared off the line by a covering defender. Where’s VAR on a Thursday evening in Sale…
A minute later though the lead was extended as Tattersall netted her second hat-trick of the week, and again a ball up over the top caught Sale out as Tattersall accelerated away, took the ball round Haywood and slammed a shot in at the near post.
That pace was causing problems and a move started at the back culminated in Tobin releasing Tattersall down the right, but this time the shot was wide. With 10 minutes to go, Haywood was still determined to keep the score down and saved brilliantly from Tobin’s dipping shot.
Tattersall wasn’t finished either though and scored twice in the final seven minutes. The first ended a neat phase of play from a thrown-in on the right as she curled in from inside the area, and the second came as Sale had pushed forward in search of a goal, a lobbed pass dropped nicely for the captain who went one-on-one with Haywood and calmly slotted past the keeper.
Full Time: Sale Ladies 0-7 Salford City Lionesses
An excellent way for the Lionesses to see the league season off and that’s now 17 wins and a draw from 18 matches, with over 130 goals scored and just 12 conceded. Winning the league was the target, and to do so in such fashion was a bonus as are the three Cup finals that we now go into.
The chance for the quadruple continues on Sunday when we play Langho Ladies at West Didsbury & Chorlton’s Brookburn Road (KO 14:00) in the GMWFL League Challenge Cup Final. The following Sunday, 12th May, we play Langho there again in the GMWFL Division 1 Cup Final, before returning on Wednesday 15th for the Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup Final against FC United of Manchester.
Thank you to Sale Ladies again for their hospitality last night, and a final thank you to all the teams for their hospitality throughout the season – all the best in the future!