Bangor inflict more woe on basement side to cement third

Bangor inflict more woe on basement side to cement third

NIWFA Championship

Bangor FC Ladies 11

Foyle Belles 1

Lewis Bennett reports from the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

BANGOR’S ladies tightened their grip on third place in the NIWFA Championship table with their biggest win of the campaign so far when they defeated Foyle Belles 11-1 at the Ryan McBride Brandywell last Wednesday night.

In the Seasiders’ final fixture before the summer break, the visitors overcame a rocky start in the north west and racked up double digits against the league’s basement side.

In terms of the standings, Bangor remain four points behind second-tier leaders Sion Swifts Ladies, who delivered a late salvo to beat fourth-placed Ballymena United Women 3-0 in a clash of last season’s Premiership drop-outs in Strabane.

With Bangor having top flight ambition themselves, the gap between the Clandeboye Park outfit and Sky Blues in turn widened to four points as Amber Dempster’s headlining four-goal haul was accompanied by braces from Francesca Costa, Robyn McFadden and Lydia Clarke as well as a Toni Stewart finish.

It wasn’t until Clarke’s strike to make it 5-1 just beforehand, however, that Bangor began to really flex their muscles, with Foyle taking the game to their opponents and giving the Seasiders occasional scares before and after the interval.

Ever-present midfielder Amanda Morton admitted the first half ‘wasn’t what it should’ve been’ but hailed the squad’s resilience and determination to show their true quality in the second period.

“I thought we were probably a bit slow in the first half, I don’t know if it was from the travel or just a little bit of complacency, but the first half wasn’t what it should’ve been,” the former Larne Women and Crusaders Strikers ace said.

“Second half, we played a little better, moved the ball much better and played at a higher tempo. We have a full squad travelling down and girls are willing to come, whatever the drive is, to be part of the squad and part of the team.

“I for one am really grateful that we have a full squad, any of which of the players are capable of coming onto the pitch and executing the game plan.

“I think that shows when Chris [Dougan] is able to make changes and keep fresh legs, and it really helps us and benefits us throughout the season.”

It was still shaky after the restart, with Foyle drawing first blood in the second half after Michaela McGilloway capitalised on a miscommunication at the back, reducing the arrears to 4-1 after Costa and McFadden had both doubled up to build a commanding-looking advantage.

Although goalkeeper Amy Wignall, playing her first 90 minutes for Bangor between the sticks in the absence of usual first-choice Giulia McLaughlin, was disappointed not to record the clean sheet, the talented teenager took a glass-half-full approach to the mistake and views it as something to learn from and improve.

“For a first match, I don’t think that was too bad,” explained Wignall, who debuted off the bench in a 7-0 victory over Belfast Celtic on June 12.

“A couple of mistakes here and there but I know what I have to work on now and hopefully, you will see a bit more of me.

“It’s more mentality than anything else, you have to be able to bounce back, but I think I did that quite well.”

She’s right to raise the topic of mentality, too, as Bangor cranked it up a gear going into the latter stages and asserted their authority on the encounter. Substitute Clarke restored their four-goal lead on 58 minutes after turning in Sarah Crooks’ inviting corner from the left, before fellow replacement Stewart added the Seasiders’ sixth from distance two minutes later.

Only a couple more minutes were needed for Dempster to bag her first of the night, drilling low and hard into the bottom right for 7-1, and she was undeterred despite firing a penalty over the bar when she picked out the net with incisive left-footed finishes on 75 and 77 minutes that wrapped up her fifth hat-trick of the season.

Not content to dwell on just the three, the former Linfield Women and Cliftonville Ladies sharpshooter added a fourth three minutes from time, looping over the Foyle stopper to make it 10-1 with a fabulous curling drive. And Clake rounded off the scoring on 88 minutes after converting a simple tap-in from Dempster’s pull-back.

All that after Costa and McFadden kept up their fine form before the break. In-form Costa has four goals in her last three games after firstly slotting in off the post having burst behind the hosts’ defence five minutes in, and then turning in from McFadden’s low cross on 19 minutes.

From there, striker McFadden – handed a well-earned start after spectacularly netting four off the bench in the 9-0 success over St Oliver Plunkett – added two in quick succession. On 42 minutes, she scored off the underside of the bar after getting on the end of Megan Gore’s right-sided free-kick and fired in a second moments later that seemed to put the result beyond doubt.

Chris Dougan’s team return to action with a home Round of 16 clash in the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup against Belfast Celtic Ladies next Friday, July 19.