Preview: Rovers Women take on Cliftonville in Belfast

Another big game for Sligo Rovers as they travel to Belfast to tackle the defending Premiership champions Cliftonville on Saturday in the final Group C game in the Avenir Sports Women’s All-Island Cup, 5.30pm, writes Conall Collier.

From a qualification perspective, the result is irrelevant to Sligo Rovers, but the prospects of claiming a major scalp could be the motivating factor for Steve Feeney’s side to kick-start an unbeaten run.

The Bit O’Red sit on zero points at the bottom of the Group, but that statistic will not have any impact on the attitude of the Sligo Rovers players who will be eager to take something home from the trip to Belfast.

Contrast all that to the facts facing Cliftonville, the Belfast side cannot afford to lose the game as that would leave them requiring a favourable result from the encounter in Strabane between Sion Swifts and Bohemian FC.

A defeat for Cliftonville and victory for either team in Strabane would leave semi-final qualification as Group C winner down to goal difference and that’s something that the Belfast side will want to avoid.

However, with the game in Strabane set for a 3pm kick-off and the game in Belfast scheduled for 5.30pm, Cliftonville will know the score.

Regardless of the various permutations that may arise, the Sligo Rovers players will approach this outing with nothing to lose and all to gain as the younger players in the team continue to download experience.

And that experience will be crucial ahead of a return to Women’s Premier Division action on Saturday 19th August with a trip to tackle an Athlone Town side with a new manager who will be aiming to get a victory in his first home game.

There is also the first round of the FAI Cup to consider the following weekend, Saturday 26th August when Donegal side Bonagee Utd will visit the Showgrounds.

Plenty of football still to be played, starting with this trip to Belfast on Saturday where the hosts will be looking to build on 2-1 wins against Sion Swifts (first round) and Bohemian Fc (second round) last weekend.

Fi Morgan and Danielle Maxwell scored the goals at the end of each half in the 2-1 against Sion Swifts.

The Belfast women also trailed last weekend against Bohemian FC with Abbie Magee equalising early in the second-half and Maxwell hitting a 68th minute winner.

The Dublin side also missed a chance of an equaliser when Mia Dodds was off target from a late penalty.

The Cliftonville women were back in League action on Wednesday night and slumped to a first defeat of the season when they lost (3-1) to Crusaders after the concession of three first-half goals proved costly.

The 4-1 scoreline from last week’s defeat for Sligo Rovers in Strabane was a bit harsh on the team as the players battled back to parity (1-1) at half-time with a super Sarah Kiernan strike and it was only in the closing 20 minutes that the hosts added the goals that sealed the verdict.

The opportunity is there now on Saturday for Sligo Rovers to begin the preparatory process for the second part of the season and perhaps also make a statement and pick up a point with a battling performance.