Salford City Lionesses reached their first ever cup final after a 6-0 win against Sale Ladies in the GMWFL Division 1 Cup semi-final.
It’s a landmark achievement for the Lionesses who looked very comfortable from the start and didn’t concede much in the way of chances, possession or territory.
After some early half chances in the drizzle of early March, Feiruz Abdullahi opened the scoring with eight minutes on the clock. A shot was pushed away for a corner by the Sale keeper which was swung in from the right, and Abdullahi found herself unmarked in the six-yard area for a simple tap-in.
The next chance of note came in the 14th minute when a good move up the right ended with possession moved in-field for Chelsea Wharton. The midfielder lined up a trademark shot from distance and watched as the ball bounced wide, before a minute later a similar shot resulted in a corner. Sale tried to play out from the back but were caught in possession by Beth Tattersall who passed the ball across to Ellen Thornton on the right, and after some nifty footwork she set herself up for a looping shot that dropped just over the crossbar.
10 minutes later, and the Lionesses still dominated possession. Jade Boulton pinged a pass down the right for Belle Ainscough who crossed low into the near post. The keeper got a touch on the cross which just took it away from the arriving Abdullahi, who was played in down the left a minute later. A short pass into the middle picked out Tattersall who drove into the area and rounded the keeper before shooting, but the recovering keeper managed to just get enough on the ball to save it onto the post and Sale cleared.
It was a big let off, but the visitors found themselves further behind a minute later from a training ground routine. Abby Bennett played a short ball from a corner into Abdullahi in the box who controlled and fired clinically into the far post.
Wharton went close again from range, this time missing the left-hand post by inches, before Tattersall got herself on the scoresheet. Again it came from the left as Abdullahi received possession on the move and squared a pass inside for Tattersall who took the shot first time, rolling the ball under the keeper to make it 3-0 with half an hour on the clock.
More joy came down that flank and Abdullahi had a shot from a tight angle saved. The loose ball fell for Boulton at the top of the area who aimed for the top right-hand corner, but the keeper got up to catch the shot. She was called into action again with four minutes to go, throwing herself to the ground to block a low Abduallhi effort for her hat-trick.
One more goal did come before the break though and was a brilliant individual effort from Bennett who broke down the left and cut into the area before letting fly with a shot across the face of goal and into the far post.
HALF TIME: Salford City Lionesses 4-0 Sale Ladies
The Lionesses were good value for their half-time lead, Sale had barely had a sniff at the other end save a couple of corners that were dealt with. Nevertheless Salford continued the second half in a positive manner and Tattersall scored her second 10 minutes in. Ainscough threaded a brilliantly weighted through ball down the middle and Tattersall kept her composure, one-on-one, to round the keeper fully this time and slot in from a tight angle.
Both on hat-tricks, and both in fluent form, Tattersall and Abdullahi worked their way down the left with Abdullahi being allowed time and space to get a shot off, but the keeper smothered the shot at her near post. That was their final action as they were replaced by Phoebe Duckworth and Mia Pemberton.
The latter nearly got herself on the scoresheet with 20 minutes to go and it was from excellent work by Bennett. Some fancy footwork opened up a chance to send a ball down the right which Ainscough crossed into the area, but Pemberton was a yard behind and the cross went out for a goal kick.
Eight minutes later Boulton struck a shot from the top of the area after Sale failed to clear a corner fully, but the keeper got down low to her left to save. However the sixth goal that had been coming all half arrived in the 82nd minute, Abdullahi had returned to the action and crossed into the six-yard area where Duckworth arrived to slam home from close range.
Ainscough had a late effort saved after more good footwork by Bennett, but it would have only added gloss to the inevitable outcome.
FULL TIME: Salford City Lionesses 6-0 Sale Ladies
The scoreline probably doesn’t reflect the dominance, but for the third time this season it should be highlighted how well the Sale keeper did to keep the score down below double figures with some more excellent saves.
As for the Lionesses, the 100% win record this season continues. It’s a credit to manager Shauna Duffy and the players that they continue to perform at the high levels we have come to expect, and now they have at least one cup final to look forward to with another two semi-finals in other competitions on the horizon.
Our opponents in the GMWFL Division 1 Cup Final will be Langho Ladies after they were 8-0 winners over Bolton Lads & Girls Club, with the game scheduled for Sunday 12th May.