Report by Paul Hatton:
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 1 - 1 ISLE OF MAN
The Isle of Man women’s football team played the first of three friendlies last weekend off-island on Sunday as part of preparations for the forthcoming Island Games taking on Accrington Stanley, where it finished 1-1.
Footballing history was made for both teams, playing at a Football League stadium for the first time and the local community was out to support, creating an atmosphere, which included strongman Mark Felix, Accrington legend Paul Beck and Burnley Fc and golden boot winner Andy Payton amongst those in attendance.
Both teams were led out onto the pitch by the Accrington Pipe Major with the Accrington junior players creating a guard of honour.
After three minutes, the Manx got off to the perfect start. Rebecca Cole slipped a diagonal through-ball for Erin Sells to run onto, just when the Accrington keeper was about to pick it up, the striker nipped in ahead, rounded the goalkeeper and stroke the ball home.
But for most of the opening 45, it was a nervous half for the IOM with passes falling short, Accrington played with the high press, the hosts were clearly lifted by the atmosphere, Abbey Rogers heading wide following a corner kick. The Manx came close to doubling their lead, Louise Gibbins was free on the left, her shot forced goalkeeper Tanya Nash into making a one-handed save.
The IOM women were soaking up the pressure as Accrington launched wave after wave of attacks and this was rewarded on 32 minutes, the hosts got an equaliser. The Manx were trying to build out from defence, Sadie Mitchell intercepted a pass and running towards goal, launched a long-range strike that flew into the top right – the 1,100 crowd erupted.
Accrington continued to press, Sanah Mehdi curled an effort wide from an acute angle, Megan Tracey had a long-range effort that was superbly save by goalkeeper Blae Cain.
The second half saw a more composed Manx side which led to an exciting 45m, and as the game drew to a close, the IOM had two great chances to clinch the match. Ruby Palmer was put through and drove a shot forcing the goalkeeper into a great save. Palmer was involved in another move, squaring to Erin Sells who was free in the box, who struck it against the crossbar.
Just before full-time, shot-stopper Kayleigh Greggor pulled off a double save for the IOM after tipping a long range strike onto the crossbar, the goalkeeper blocked a close range shot from Rianna Fennell, the match finishing 1-1.
The match was superbly officiated by Chelsea Hodgson. This will be a match which will be talked about in years to come.
Isle of Man: Kayleigh Greggor, Blae Cain, Megan Kelly, Stevie Mallon, Anna Shaw, Kayleigh Georgeson, Erin Sells, Becky Corkish, Rebecca Cole, Louise Gibbins, Holy Stephen, Lisa Costain, Becca Cregeen, Leah Clegg, Ruby Palmer
IOM forthcoming matches: Upton 13th May; Ynys Mon 27th May