It was the perfect way to end the final home game of the season, with four goals from Phoebe Duckworth, a hat-trick from Beth Tattersall and strikes from Laura Tobin, Chelsea Wharton and Abby Bennett sealing the final points needed.
There is still one game to go of the league season when we travel to Sale Ladies on Thursday night, where the trophy presentation will take place, but this win gave us enough of a gap on Barr Hill Ladies to secure first place.
On a blustery afternoon the Lionesses made a brisk start and within three minutes were celebrating the opening goal of the afternoon. Tobin was the creator, as she has been on numerous occasions throughout the year, and played in Tattersall on the right. The captain took the ball around the oncoming keeper and slotted in from a tight angle.
Just a few minutes later, Mia Pemberton chased a ball down the left-hand side and cut back into the area. With space to weigh up her options she elected to shoot and got plenty of power behind the effort which forced the keeper to save for a corner, but that was cleared.
The keeper was on hand to smother a shot from Tattersall in the 15th minute, but she was unable to hold on and the loose ball came to Tobin who cooly placed a shot past the covering defenders to double Salford’s lead.
Unfortunately for Rochdale that opened the floodgates and within three minutes it was 3-0. This move stated from the back with Belle Ainscough who advanced on the right before picking out Tattersall. She drove forward further up on the right before pulling possession back to the top of the area where Wharton elected to shoot first time, and hit a dipping shot that dropped between the stretching keeper and her crossbar.
Three soon became four and again it was Tattersall who played a through ball down the middle for Duckworth to chase. The winger’s first shot had enough to beat the keeper but came off the inside of the left post and rolled across the six-yard box. However Duckworth followed in the shot and slammed into the empty net to put the Lionesses four goals to the good.
Rochdale hadn’t posed much in the way of a threat, but in the 25th minute the captain tested Jess Duke with a firmly hit effort. Alert to the danger, the Salford number one dived to her left to catch the shot and set herself on the way to a clean sheet. A minute later her opposite number was forced into an equally good saved as Bennett shot from 30 yards.
With 10 minutes to go before half time, the game as a contest was as good as over. Tobin showed good determination to reach and keep a through ball in play on the right before pulling it in-field where Duckworth shot first time, curling the ball into the far post with her left. Then immediately from kick-off, Salford won possession back and a through ball was picked up by Tattersall down the middle who again slotted past the oncoming keeper.
Half Time: Salford City Lionesses 6-0 Rochdale AFC Ladies
With one hand now on the title, there were 45 minutes to go for the Lionesses and their relentless pursuits continued. Duckworth in particular would have a number of chances and early on she was denied her hat-trick by a good save from the keeper.
Instead, that accolade would go to Tattersall in the first instance in the 53rd minute. Another ball through the middle was weighted perfectly and although she was forced wider than before, Tattersall still managed to score from a tight angle.
The frustration carried on for Duckworth as a couple of shots went wide, and the keeper made a couple of decent stops, but her hat-trick came in the 70th minute. A determined run from the left took her into the area where she knocked the ball through the legs of a defender before squeezing a shot between the keeper and the near post from only a few yards out.
Seven minutes later she added another as Pemberton’s cross from the left wasn’t dealt with by the keeper, and the ball dropped behind where Duckworth arrived to tap-in from hardly a yard out. It was close to the goal line, and may have dropped in by it’s own means from Pemberton’s cross, but whether it had or hadn’t, Duckworth made certain of the ninth.
Yet again there was hardly time for a breath as Salford won the ball back form kick off, and Tobin threaded a pass into Bennett. The midfielder has come into a rich vein of scoring form recently and had already gone close, but this time she made no mistake with a well executed shot across goal from outside the area on the right to make it double figures for the Lionesses.
Full Time: Salford City Lionesses 10-0 Rochdale AFC Ladies
There was little else in the closing stages as the Lionesses settled and made certain of the winning points. While some might be astonished at some of the results and score lines, there has still been a job for the Lionesses to do each game, and the professionalism and attitude has been exemplary from the start so this was a great way to end the season at home. As earlier, the trophy will be presented at the end of the game against Sale Ladies on Thursday night (KO 18:15 at Sale Sports Club).
With one of four possible trophies in the bag, attention and focus will now switch to next Sunday and the GMWFL League Challenge Cup Final against Langho Ladies. Langho are again the opponents in the Division One Cup Final on Sunday 12th May, before we face FC United of Manchester in the Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup Final on Wednesday 15th May. All finals are being played at West Didsbury & Chorlton.
Congratulations to the Lionesses, and we would also like to say a massive thank you to the rest of the clubs in the league for their hospitality, competition and efforts this season – we wish you all the best going forward!