Plymouth (H) 18/19
Coventry United Ladies return to the top of the FA Womens’ National League Southern Premier Division with an emphatic 9-1 victory over Plymouth Argyle Ladies at Communications Park.
The Pilgrims made the long journey from the south coast for the first of a league and cup double header in Daventry, with Sunday’s fixture to be repeated in the SSE Womens’ FA Cup Second Round in seven days time. United manager Jay Bradford made two changes to the side that beat Wolves in the County Cup the previous weekend, with Nat Haigh making her first appearance of the season following a combination of a loan spell and injury, while Nikki Miles also returned following a rest last week. The injured Maz Gauntlett and young defender Erin Riden made way.
The result seemed beyond doubt within the first 12 minutes as the Red and Green Girls soared into a 3-0 advantage. The first came from teenage forward Shannon O’Brien, who found the net for the third straight game, firing through the hands of Argyle keeper Lindsay Rogers. Nat Haigh’s return to the side was marked with a special strike, albeit one she likely didn’t mean. A hopeful ball into the box looped over the head of Rogers who had vacated her line. A couple of minutes later the ball was in the net again, as a delightful through ball was picked u by Amber Hughes. The winger made her way into the penalty area and tucked home from a tight angle.
Left-back Rosie McDonnell was next to fire past Rogers. Haigh’s floating free kick was flicked by Jade Brook into the path of McDonnell, who dinked the ball over the keeper from close range. Brook also played a major part in goal number 5. Her unstoppable run from her own half to the opposite penalty area was completed with a cross from the right flank. Rogers leaped off her line to palm the ball away, but she could only take it into the path of McDonnell who scored her second of the afternoon with a tap in. Right place, right time.
Into the second half, and Plymouth showed signs of life, with a goal just minutes after the first whistle. United’s Nikki Miles was injured in the process following a collision with Plymouth attacker Becky Dandridge. The visitors ignored pleas to kick the ball out, and continued into the box where Helen Bleazard rolled the ball across Sue Wood in the United net to give the long travelling support something to cheer about. It wouldn’t last however, as Amy Wathan nodded in a sixth from Lois Jefferies’ cross. Then came a moment to remember for Rosie McDonnell. The Yorkshire born full-back embarked on a one womam mission with an unstoppable run into the box before firing a laser guided strike straight into the far top corner to complete an unlikely hat-trick. Lois Jefferies also found her way onto the scoresheet, lifting the ball over an already diving Rogers from close range, before Chenise Austin rounded off the afternoon with an injury time penalty.
The three points ensured United not only returned to the top of the table, but would remain there until the new year.