The sun blazed down on an immaculate Broadwood Stadium today as St Roch’s visited Cumbernauld Colts Development team for their second meeting in the league this season.
The unrelenting heat could easily have reduced the tempo of the game to a crawl but neither team was willing to allow that to happen as both sets of players went at it from the kick off. Thankfully the referee offered water breaks during the game which everyone gratefully took full advantage of.
The football itself was a thoroughly entertaining spectacle as both midfields battled for control of the game straight from the kick off and the large Broadwood pitch encouraged fast passing football.
St Roch’s set out to take advantage of the wide flanks and both Nicky McDonald and Claire Wright worked the channels tirelessly looking to send dangerous balls into striker Stacey Higgins.
For their part Cumbernauld looked to drive through central midfield and Sarah Rhind in the visitors goal was called upon to pull off a stunning one on one save midway through the first half as Colts made a rare break through the otherwise solid Roch’s back four.
However it was St Roch’s who opened the scoring after good work from midfield won them two corners in quick succession.
Roch’s centre back, Steph McManus, sent an in swinging corner deep into the danger area for Striker Higgins to head the ball home from 10 yards out. The goal helped to focus St Roch’s and Higgins, Dodwell and Campbell all went close as they sought to increase the visitors advantage.
St Rochs started the second half by bringing on team skipper Kate McManus in central midfield along with the lively Kayleigh McCall on the right wing. McManus immediately set about dominating midfield and her partnership with the tireless running and determination of Cara Lovatt was soon putting the home defence under pressure.
Just short of the hour mark McManus sent a long throw-in into the penalty box from 20 yards up the touchline for the ever dangerous Nicky McDonald to take a touch, turn and send a screaming shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle on the edge of the six yard box.
St Roch’s had control of the game by then although all credit to Cumbernauld who kept battling away and played some nice passing football, but their efforts to get back into the game ended when Steph McManus scored her first two competitve goals in quick succession to round off a successful afternoon for St Roch’s.
Her first came on 72 minutes when she sent one of her trademark long range free kicks high over the keepers head from 35 yards out on the far wing. She doubled her tally six minutes later from an in swinging corner which caught everyone off guard as it curled in low at the front post.
But the last mention must go to the outstanding Sarah Rhind who, late in the game pulled off a second stunning one on one diving save to preserve her clean sheet.
Next week St Roch’s face a herculean challenge as they travel to Edinburgh and step up two divisions to take on SWPL2 title contenders, Hearts, in the last 32 of the Scottish Cup.
Reported by St Roch’s Ladies
Pictures: St Roch’s Ladies