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If they were offering odds and taking bets on teams winning footballing championships, then the smart money is on Laxey for the Isle of Man Division Two title.
Trophyless since inception, ten years of hurt could come to an end at Glen Road. Buoyed by the recent qualification for the Floodlit Cup semi finals and with only one defeat in their last five matches, Laxey's league ambitions gained further momentum, occupying pole position following a 3-2 win over a previous divisional champions Castletown.
Both teams had the confidence to push forward from the opening whistle, playing some constructive, attacking football and it came as no surprise that a goal was scored after only nine minutes in favour of the home side. Kerry Lockwood and Christina Sutton combined in the centre and dinked a pass into space for Dawn Winn to chase. Rounding the goalkeeper, the Laxey striker looked she knocked it too far but quickly covered the ground, slotting home from an acute angle.
Castletown's first clear-cut opportunity fell to Tricia Fleming, steering narrowly wide when she was found in space with Sarah Denny and Donna Ashworth driving tame efforts straight at Voirrey Lawson. But Laxey continued to threaten, Kelly Barlow continuingly harassing the opposing defence and not giving them any time to settle with Dawn Winn twice breaking away with her pace, where she was denied twice by Caley, the latter being a superb one-handed save.
The Miners had to wait until the second half before adding to their lead. Barlow gave chase to another lost cause on the right, her cut back found Lockwood who chipped an effort into the roof of the net. The southerners continued to battle, pulling a goal back from the penalty spot after Fleming was fouled, Denny duly dispatched her effort into the bottom left.
With both teams still creating chances, Laxey extended their lead further with a third on 75 minutes, Lockwood's corner was met by Rebecca Kirk's head to power home. Castletown quickly regrouped, netting again two minutes later. The Miners defence couldn't clear the lingering danger, Fleming's shot going in off the post and into the net to make it 3-2. Laxey's management and supporters had to endure a nervous remaining thirteen minutes and the home side had to be thankful to Lawson, parrying a venomous drive from Fleming. Lockwood came closest to extending the Miners' lead when her long range effort was denied by Caley's legs.
In the remaining Isle of Man Division Two match, Colby recorded their first win of the calendar year with a 2-0 win over Ramsey despite the southerners starting with only nine players. Claire Scott scored Colby's only goal in the first half following a cross from the left, she fired home at the second attempt. The Arbory side's starting line-up was bolstered to ten at the interval with the introduction of Louise Corkish who made it 2-0 after latching onto a through ball.
In Division One, Corinthians - who played the entire match with only ten players - gained revenge following their semi final defeat by beating their Noble's Park neighbours Douglas Royal 3-1. Sarah Kerford opening the scoring, seizing on a Royal free kick and venturing into a near empty opposing half, where she chipped over a stranded goalkeeper to make it 1-0. Corinthians doubled their advantage when Anna Dillon's corner went in at the near post. Royal pulled a goal back when Bekki Cole's corner found Vicky Worthington who netted at the second attempt. Corinthians secured victory with a third, Jade Burden setting up Kerford to net her second and make it 3-1.
Rushen Utd started their second phase of the league campaign with a 3-0 win over Gymnasium. Kirsty Qualtrough opened the scoring for the southerners from a cross, floating her effort into the top corner with Donna Harrison netting their second following a team passing move involving Hannah Biggerstaff and Eleanor Gawne. Harrison returned the compliment in the second half, setting up Gawne to fire home Rushen's third from the edge of the penalty area.
(Report by Paul Hatton)
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