Salford City Lionesses’ perfect season continued after a winter break with a 9-0 win away at Sale Ladies.
In the third meeting between the sides this season, the Lionesses were again victorious after four goals from Feiruz Abdullahi, a brace by Laura Tobin and goals for Beth Tattersall and Phoebe Duckworth.
On a typically murky January afternoon the opening exchanges suggested that Sale would offer a good contest as they did in the last meeting in November in the GMWFL Challenge Cup that ended 5-1. The hosts won an early corner too which came off Nic Hamilton and nearly fell for Sale’s number 10, but Ellen Thornton got a last gasp challenge in to clear the ball which fell for Tattersall.
Salford’s speedy number seven accelerated down the middle of the pitch and found herself one-on-one with the Sale ‘keeper who blocked Tattersall’s effort, however the loose ball fell for Abdullahi who was in support and the Lionesses top scorer kept her calm to slot in at the post after five minutes.
Just a few minutes later a powerful run through the middle took Abdullahi into the area, but her heavy touch was cleared only as far Jade Boulton. Again Sale’s stopper made a decent save as the ball rolled wide and seemingly away from danger. Abdullahi wasn’t giving up though and slammed a low cross back into the middle which the Sale number six tried to clear away from danger, but unfortunately she could only hook the ball past her own keeper.
In the reverse league fixture Sale’s number one stood out and prevented the score reaching double figures, and she was called into action again in the 13th minute as Abby Bennet won a 50/50 to the left of centre to set up Abdullahi, but her shot was saved. Mia Pemberton took the resulting corner from the left which was flicked on by Tobin making a run to the near post, and the flick-on dropped for Tattersall to stick a leg out and poke into the bottom corner.
The early goals allowed the Lionesses to settle into the game and they controlled much of the possession, with Boulton going close twice over the next 10 minutes or so; one shot dipped over the bar with the other being saved.
It wasn’t until the final 10 minutes of the first half when Salford turned the pressure up again, and a fourth goal came with 36 minutes on the clock. Rach Smith ventured up the right-hand side to close down Sale who could only clear the ball to the right-hand side where Duckworth kept it in play. From wide she crossed into the area when Tobin met the ball at the near post to turn in her first goal of 2019, and it was shortly followed by a second. Again Duckworth claimed the assist as a short pass went up the right into Tobin who spotted the keeper off her line and hit a fabulous dipping effort into the top right-hand corner.
Duckworth isn’t one to be outdone though, and she took her chance to wow the spectators as an uncharacteristic error saw the Sale keeper mis-kick a clearance and it fell for Duckworth on the right. The winger, on as a substitute, took a touch in field before letting fly from a full 40 yards and finding the back of the net.
Half Time: Sale Ladies 0-6 Salford City Lionesses
6-0 looks a bit harsh on bottom of the table Sale who were putting up a fight and in fairness had defended well enough most of the other time to stop the score being higher. That said, Duckworth looked to add another spectacular to her collection for the afternoon as she met a cross from Bennett at the back post, but her volley was saved.
A combination of intercepted passes, well-timed challenges and spells of possession meant Sale had a foothold in the second half, but chances were at a premium and Lionesses ‘keeper Jess Duke had relatively little to trouble her.
That possession saw Sale gradually creep up the pitch as more of the game was played in the middle, but that led to goal number seven shortly before the hour mark. The space left behind was allowing Abdullahi to move in and out of the defence and on this occasion she broke through the middle and reached the penalty area before dispatching a shot low into the bottom right corner. A minute later a Salford corner dropped for Bennett to the left of the area, but her shot rose over the bar.
10 minutes later Chelsea Wharton was left agonisingly close as she let fly with a low shot from the edge of the area, but it flashed wide of the left-hand post by inches. From the resulting goal kick Salford won possession back and Abdullahi completed another hat-trick for the season with a driving shot into the roof of the net that left the Sale stopper with no chance.
She could have had goal number four for the afternoon a few minutes later as she headed a Pemberton corner goalwards, but was denied by the palm of the keeper who pushed the effort onto the bar. From the following corner a hat-trick chance came for Tobin, but her shot was blocked on the line and Sale cleared.
Set pieces were starting to mount and become a threat, and it should have been nine from the next corner in the 82nd minute, but Smith got well underneath the high cross and headed over the bar from a couple of yards out.
Maybe showboating, or maybe just the natural instinct of a striker who knows where the net is, Abdullahi made it nine a minute later with a subtle bit of skill. A shot came in from just outside the area that was smothered by the Sale keeper, but again dropped to Abdullahi. With her back to goal, the forward back-heeled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner and out of reach to put the game to bed.
Bennett had another chance late on after Tobin showed a good switch of feet at the top of the area to create some space and unselfishly played in the wing-back, but her placed effort to the bottom corner was just about saved by the keeper.
Full Time: Sale Ladies 0-9 Salford City Lionesses
A perfect start to 2019 to mirror that of the men’s first team, and the Lionesses remain five points clear at the top of the GMWFL Division One. Next week they visit third-placed Rochdale AFC Ladies.