Women’s Under 19 0-1 DLR Waves

                                                          U19 – Sligo Rovers 0 DLR Waves 1

Sligo Rovers Women were unlucky to be beaten by DLR Waves at The Sean Fallon Centre on Sunday, an 87th minute Robyn Bolger strike was all that separated the teams. A draw would probably have been a fair result in a game between two very evenly matched sides, although the weather was determined to take centre stage as the heavens opened wide and remained ajar for all but the first 10 minutes of this contest.

Sligo were looking to build on the 1-1 draw with Bohemians in the opening round of games but were on the backfoot early as Zoe Leonard created space on the right for the visitors, her ball inside found Ella Maree but the DLR midfielder shot high over the bar from just outside the penalty area. Perhaps the ball struck a low flying cloud as that was the queue for the rain to appear and suddenly cascade upon the Showgrounds for the majority of the first half. Both sides deserve credit for playing some neat stuff in midfield in such trying conditions, however, the newly slick surface frequently saw the final pass elude a teammate and zip away for a goal kick. DLR probably just shaded the first half as far as attempts went, Lucy Edwards playing just behind Bolger started to find some space and it was her attempt on 26 minutes that brought the first save from Farrah McDonagh in the home goal. Rovers did force the first corner of the game a few moments before half-time but the out-swinging cross sailed just above the head of Sarah Kiernan as she broke free at the near post.

Centre back Keela Scanlon, who was having a very impressive game for Sligo, was unfortunately forced from the pitch with a facial injury and replaced by midfielder Nola Eivers within two minutes of the restart. Eivers went into central midfield to partner Alison Langdon-Long as Kate Nugent dropped back into defence alongside Nadine Hargadon. Sligo slowly gained the upper hand as the half progressed with Eivers growing into the game and it was her strike from distance on the hour mark that just flew over the crossbar. She was at it again sixty seconds later from an identical position but this time her shot was blocked by an increasingly worried looking DLR backline. The rain had eased somewhat but continued to fall as Rovers began to grow in confidence. Left back Kiernan had started to push further forward and it was her run on 73 minutes that almost brought the first goal. She raced into the DLR half, slalomed past two challenges on the edge of the box, cut in on her right foot and curled an effort towards the bottom right corner that was well saved by Rugile Auskalnyte. It was a good stop by the goalkeeper recently called up to the Republic of Ireland U19 side.

Ella Vahey replaced Rebecca Doddy up front for Rovers and the pressure increased, Vahey involved in Rovers best chance on 81 minutes. All four Sligo subs combined brilliantly as Erin Somers picked out Alicia Hogge who threaded through for Vahey, her strike was firm but brilliantly saved by Auskalnyte who somehow got up to block the rebound as well. That scare seemed to rouse DLR who began finding space behind the full backs, their fresh legs on both wings stretching a tired Rovers backline. Holly Rutherford combined with Nicole O’Neill to pick out Bulger who rattled the crossbar with a strike from 20 yards. The Waves pinned Rovers back from the resulting throw in forcing a mistake from Eivers, her under hit pass was leapt on by Bolger who sped towards goal and fired home off the left post. It was cruel on Sligo who had been the better side in the second half and on Eivers especially who was terrific after a tough start. Moments later, the excellent Kerri O’Hara came off injured leaving the home side down to 10 women and their hopes of finding a late equaliser quashed.  Overall it was a tremendous performance from a clearly well coached and talented side who play good football even in biblical conditions, the future for Sligo Rovers women looks very bright indeed.

Report: Richard Mullan