Whether the visitors were still thinking about last weeks cup victory or whether they were distracted by their impending league cup quarter final tie, St Roch’s performance today didn’t reach the high levels of recent weeks.
To be fair, unexpected call offs meant a last minute reshuffle of the team selection which clearly didn’t help matters but when all was said and done St Roch’s simply struggled to match the battling physical play of the home side. The visitors never gave up trying and in the opening exchanges on a blustery and compact 3g pitch the teams looked evenly balanced.
However the breakthrough eventually went Blackburn’s way when an uncharacteristic mix up in the Roch’s defence gave the home striker a simple header past the advancing, stand-in keeper, Sarah Rhind.
The visitors pushed forward looking to get back into the game and were soon awarded a free kick on the halfway line for a deliberate handball. Steph McManus stepped up and her long range kick caught out the home defence and had their keeper scrambling nervously across her goal line. Five minutes later it was Laura Stevensons turn to send a dangerous free kick towards the home goal following a heavy challenge on the hard working Nicky McDonald.
Despite creating a couple of other half chances the visitors went two down shortly before the break. Sarah Rhind got down brilliantly to smother a snap shot only to see Blackburn force the ball over the line. To the dismay of the visiting support the referee waved away the visitors protests that the ball had been kicked from the keepers arms but thankfully after treatment Rhind was able to continue the game.
St Roch’s made three changes for the start of the second half and pushed Jillsy Campbell forward in an effort to get back into the game. The changes almost paid off when striker Stacey Higgins latched onto a through ball twelve yards out but she fired her half volley over the bar when it looked easier to hit the net.
Substitute Stacey Bannon then created another opportunity after a determined drive down the right flank but sadly fortune was not favouring the Roch’s girls today and it was almost inevitable that their pressure would leave gaps from which Blackburn were able to steal in for a third goal to seal the win. Indeed the home side thought they had clinched number four only to be denied by a superb instinctive save from Rhind who threw herself high to her left hand side to palm the danger round the post.
St Roch’s now need to pick themselves up and focus on their journey north next Sunday to take on Kemnay in the first round of the Scottish Cup.
Reported by St Roch’s Ladies