Match Preview: Rovers Women take on Sion Swifts

Another tough outing for Sligo Rovers this weekend as manager Steve Feeney takes the team on a relatively short journey to Strabane to tackle Sion Swifts in the Avenir Sports Women’s All-Island Cup at 2pm, writes Conall Collier

It’s yet another first for a fledgling Sligo Rovers team that is surely due a large dollop of good luck after last weekend’s reversal against Bohemian FC where a couple of own goals contributed to a flattering 3-1 victory for the Dublin women.

Sion Swifts came into this competition as a late replacement for Derry City and are currently eight games into the Women’s Premiership and sit in fourth place some nine points adrift of leaders Glentoran.

The Northern Ireland Women’s Premiership has expanded to 10 teams this season with the addition of Ballymena Utd and Larne and this year also marked the advent of professionalism for women’s football in Northern Ireland.

The Sion Swifts women’s club was formed in 2010 and made the top division in 2015 following a play-off victory.

The club has enjoyed success also and won the Women’s Irish Cup in 2017 and the League Cup last season, the manager is Tony McGinley and home games are played at the Melvin Sports Complex in Strabane.

Both teams lost in the first round of Group C last weekend with Sion Swifts edged out by the odd goal in three away to Cliftonville after taking a first-half lead through Zoe McGlynn while the Bit O’Red ended up on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline against Bohemian FC.

Consequently, both teams need to win this encounter to have any chance of finishing top of the four-team group and earning the semi-final ticket.

It’s a tall order as other results will have to be favourable also, but that won’t deter either side from going for victory in what should be a well-contested encounter.

Sion Swifts didn’t have too much time to brood over the narrow loss against Cliftonville as they were in action on Wednesday night and bounced back with an impressive 4-0 League Cup quarter-final victory against Mid Ulster.

Sion Swifts recorded a 6-1 win in the preliminary round of the competition in mid-June against Ballymena Utd and will face Crusaders Strikers in the semi-final next month.

This weekend the Tyrone women will be looking to players like Zoe McGlynn and Caoirse Doherty, who both scored against Mid Ulster, to hit the target again on Saturday.

There are a number of positives for Sligo Rovers going into this game, the first one is that away form this season is more encouraging and then there is the display last weekend against a Bohemian FC side that is enjoying a good season in the Women’s Premier Division.

If hard work, grit and determination were sufficient to win a game, then Sligo Rovers would be relatively short-priced for this encounter.

However, a kinder bounce of the ball is overdue for the Bit O’Red and with players like Casey Howe, Emma Doherty, Lauren Boles, Alice Lillie, Ciara Henry and Kate Nugent all poised to capitalise, Saturday’s showdown in Strabane could produce lots of goals.