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Dale Women Reach Premier Cup Final

13 March 2024


Dale Women Reach Premier Cup Final

13 March 2024

Dale Women reached the final of the Premier Cup with a 3-2 win over Atherton Laburnum Rovers Ladies on Sunday.

A Shannon Gill double, as well as one from Michelle Lee, saw Dale run out winners in the semi-final, which had been rescheduled following a serious injury to Rebecca Leonard in the original tie.

Dale went into the match with just 12 available players due to a mounting injury list, as well as others who were ineligible due to competition rules.

Lee Atkinson’s side started the brighter of the two sides and took an early lead when Gill beat her defender and fired an unbelievable strike into the top left corner.

Gill carved out another great chance, getting away from her marker again, but put a one-on-one effort narrowly wide.

The hosts were moving the ball well, but Dale stood strong, particularly goalkeeper Leah Jackson who made some crucial saves.

At the other end though, Dale continued to threaten and doubled their lead when Lee picked up a partially cleared corner on the edge of the area and fired into the top corner.

Gill saw an incredible volley superbly stopped by the Atherton goalkeeper before the hosts halved the deficit just before the break. A counter-attack led to a cross-shot which Jackson had no chance of saving, as the game headed into the interval at 2-1.

They picked up where they left off after the break and after dominating the opening stages of the second period, Atherton grabbed a deserved equaliser just after the hour mark.

Elli Fergus, who has been missing for an extended period due to injury, returned for the final 20 minutes and almost made an instant impact as she struck the crossbar after beating two defenders.

Dale’s confidence began to soar, and it was Fergus who set up the winning goal, flicking a pass over to Gill who showed unbelievable composure to chip the onrushing goalkeeper and find the back of the net.

Atherton piled on the pressure late on, creating good opportunities, but they were denied by a combination of goalkeeper Jackson and the Dale defence, who defended for their lives.

They hung on to reach Dale’s first final in just the first season of existence for Dale Women.

Manager Lee Atkinson commented: “I’m unbelievably proud of the players today.

“We knew we were up against a top side in Atherton, and we had players playing out of position.

“But we had a game plan which worked for us. The players will be sore after that one, but they deserve to be in the final after that effort.

“There were so many unbelievable individual performances but ultimately it took a top team effort to get us over the line.

“We will now face Salford in the Premier Cup Final on 5th May.

“However, there is no time to rest, as we face Middleton away in the semi-final of the League Challenge Cup, and I know the players will be doing everything they can to try to reach two finals in our first season.”

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