The Danske Bank Women’s Premiership finally kicked off last Wednesday night having been delayed since April due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are a few changes to the divisions format this time around, firstly only six teams are taking part due to Comber Rec being relegated last time out and no one being promoted in their place. Usually the teams face each other three times but this time they will only meet twice, home and away for a total of ten games.
For the first time we will be having a weekly roundup of all the action each week on www.overtheturnstile.uk, this week we start at Solitude where Cliftonville hosted Glentoran.
Cliftonville 0-3 Glentoran
Only one place, though 11 points, separated these sides last season with Glentoran finishing third and Cliftonville finding themselves in the fourth spot at the end of the 2019 campaign.
It was actually the home side who started this game the better but the closest they came to scoring was a Rachel McConnell header being saved comfortably by Glens keeper Jacqueline Burns.
Eventually the visitors began to take the upper hand and two goals in the final five minutes of the first half put them well in control. The first goal came in the 41st minute when Reds keeper, Rachael Norney, collided with McConnell as they both tried to clear a cross from Hannah Doherty, and the loose ball then fell to Joely Andrews who converted for the opening goal of the game.
The second goal was scored three minutes later when a Kelly Bailie free-kick from the left was flicked goalwards by Rachel Rogan but was blocked by a defender, and unfortunately for Seamus McCorry’s side, the ball fell into the path of Kerry Battie whose powerful strike gave Norney no chance and put Glentoran 2-0 up at half-time.
The two goals before the break really killed the game off as a contest and there were few chances of note in the second half but Jess Foy wrapped up the win for the East Belfast side in the 70th minute when her right-hand cross looped over the head of Norney and into the back of the net.
Derry City 0-6 Sion Swifts
Sion Swifts finished in second last season, only losing out to league winners Linfield on goal difference in the last game of the season.
The Swifts have responded to this disappointment in the best way possible as a week before the season started they announced the signings of two of Linfield’s most prolific attacking players from last season, sisters Kirsty and Caitlin McGuinness, who scored almost half of the champions’ 96 goals between them last season.
In contrast, Derry only won one game last season, only avoiding bottom spot by goal difference. If last week’s result is anything to go by, it could be another long season ahead for the Candystripes.
The new signings made an instant impact with Kirsty hitting the crossbar early on and going on to set Caitlin up for her first goal in Sion colours, as this came in either side of a Teegan Lynch brace.
The Swifts were 4-0 up at the half-time interval as Kirsty McGuinness opened her own account for Sion as she took advantage of a poor clearance from a defender to score from long range.
The sisters combined again in the second half, this time Caitlin set Kirsty up to score from close range, and this was after Kelly Crompton had headed home from a Kirsty McGuinness corner.
This win puts Tony McGinley’s side into an early lead at the top of the table as they strive to go one better than last season, while City drop into bottom spot.
Linfield Ladies 2-0 Crusaders Strikers
Phil Lewis’ Linfield side started their campaign last Wednesday looking to secure a fifth league title in a row, however, it could be that this will be a season of transition for the champions as they have lost the services of the aforementioned McGuinness sisters as well as Chloe McCarron who has signed for Birmingham while Lauren Perry also joined Blackburn last October.
Linfield were made to work for this win as Spike Hill’s Crusaders went close to opening the scoring through new signing Hollie Johnston who was perfectly played in by Kirsty Cameron though the debutant couldn’t beat Blues goalkeeper Nicole Adams.
Adams was called into action again in the second half when Jessica Rea beat the offside trap to get onto the end of an Amy McGivern pass, but the Blues’ stopper pushed the ball behind for a corner. McGivern was involved again for the Crues as she got on to the end of a deep Julie Nelson free-kick, but her effort on goal hit the woodwork.
Despite these chances for the Crues, it was a Casey Howe brace in the last ten 15 minutes that secured victory for Lewis’ side. Firstly, Howe chased the ball down the right-hand side, beating the opposition defence to the ball and firing a shot across goal past keeper Maddy Harvey-Clifford to break the deadlock. Howe wrapped up the points a few minutes from time with a curling effort from outside the box into Harvey-Clifford’s bottom right-hand corner.
It may not have been the most convincing win for Linfield and Crusaders will feel aggrieved to have come away from nothing but the victory means the champions start the season in joint first place, trailing Sion and Glentoran on goal difference.
So, after the first round of fixtures here is how the table looks:
|1||Sion Swifts Ladies||1||1||0||0||6||0||6||3|
|6||Derry City Women||1||0||0||1||0||6||-6||0|
The second round of fixtures for the 2020 Danske Bank Premiership Women’s season take place tomorrow night with the following games all kicking off at 20:00:
Cliftonville Ladies v Derry City Women
Glentoran Women v Linfield Ladies
Crusaders Strikers v Sion Swifts Ladies