Seasiders show no let up as Comber are put to the sword

Lewis Bennett reports from Clandeboye Park

BANGOR FC Ladies maintained their fine start to the new NIWFA Championship campaign last Wednesday night when they hit Comber Rec Ladies for six at a sunny Clandeboye Park.

The Seasiders, who needed to bounce back off the ropes following a penalty shoot-out loss to Ballymena United Women a couple of days beforehand in the NIWFA Championship Cup, rolled out the punches and overcame a nervy start to record a resounding 6-0 victory – their third in a row in the league.

After high-scoring successes over St Oliver Plunkett (6-1) and Foyle Belles (9-0) in their first two matchdays, that trend continued thanks to braces by Amber Dempster and substitute Leah Robinson and strikes from Janine Jess and Amanda Morton, who bagged her first goal for the club having been introduced from the bench early on.

It proved enough to break the resistance of a brave Comber outfit, who applied waves of pressure in the first 20 minutes and often tested goalkeeper Giulia McLaughlin both from open play and set-piece situations.

But when Jess delivered the opener on 24 minutes, her long-distance strike squirming into the net for the young midfielder’s fourth goal in as many games, Chris Dougan’s home side began to put their stamp on the contest and entered the half-time break with a two-goal lead as Dempster netted 10 minutes after Jess’ finish.

Bangor continued to set the tone after the restart when Dempster crashed home her second – and seventh of the 2024 season – having powered the ball in at the goalkeeper’s near post on 55 minutes, and experienced midfielder Morton, who was introduced as a like-for-like replacement in the middle of the park following an injury to Jodie Shannon in the first period, got her goal count in yellow and blue up and running eight minutes later when she headed in from close range.

Robinson took the mantle afterwards and rounded off the scoring firstly by delicately slotting home from six yards on 79 minutes and then drilling it hard and low from the same distance six minutes later from Dempster’s fast delivery.

It was another performance to match the result and, following on from the agonising nature of the after-extra-time reversal at the Warden Street Showgrounds last Monday, a welcome return to winning ways for Dougan’s charges.

Former Larne Women and Crusaders Strikers star Morton, who linked up after helping the Inver Reds to Sports Direct Women’s Premiership survival last year, agreed.

She said: “I think that was kind of the message in the changing room, that we were glad to be back so soon to shake the cobwebs off from Monday night (against Ballymena) and get scoring goals again.

“It’s good to get my first goal, I hope to get a lot more of them, but assists are good, too – I had a couple of assists this week and last week.

“Anything I can do, whether it’s scoring goals or passing to other people to score goals, I’m happy to do it.”

Versatile forward Robinson, meanwhile, felt Bangor could’ve been even more clinical on the night but was pleased the side responded in turn and controlled the game after that shaky opening spell.

“It was a bit of a shaky start, but once we got that (first) goal in, we picked up a bit more,” the 22-year-old reflected.

“I feel like we could’ve had a few more goals, but we’re happy with the win. We’ll keep working on our finishing in training and hopefully we can keep putting points on the board.”