Blackburn Rovers Ladies 6-1 Chorley Ladies
Mercure Dunkenhalgh Women’s Challenge Cup final
Thursday 10th May
The County Ground
Goalscorers: Wood (36), MacDonald (39), Jordan (49, 85), Walsh (51), Clarkson (88), Jukes (90)
Blackburn Rovers Ladies lifted the Mercure Dunkenhalgh Women’s Challenge Cup for the 12th time after a five-star second-half performance spurred them on to victory against Chorley Ladies.
Rovers were looking to extend their dominance in the competition but this initially looked under threat as Chorley took the lead through Rachel Wood.
But Gemma Donnelly’s side equalised soon after through Kayleigh MacDonald, before going on to find the net a further five times after the interval.
Saffron Jordan, Hannah Walsh, Eve Clarkson and Chelsey Jukes all got onto the scoresheet in the second half to wrap up yet another county cup victory for the club.
The first half took a while to kick into action, with not many clear-cut chances to speak of within the opening half hour.
Wood struck with a low effort for Chorley, saved by Danielle Hill, while for Blackburn, Ellie Cook headed over from a corner and Ria Montgomery saw her shot across goal roll just wide.
It was Chorley who struck first, capitalising on a mix-up in the Rovers back line between the ‘keeper and a defender.
Wood snuck in to pick up the loose ball and quickly guide it into an empty net, to a rousing cheer from her side’s supporters.
But it wasn’t long before Rovers drew themselves level - just three minutes in fact.
MacDonald leapt highest to head home a free kick, Blackburn demonstrating their strength at set-pieces throughout the night.
Having gone into the break all square, Rovers soon turned up the gas in the second half and took the lead just four minutes in.
Cook headed a corner towards goal and Jordan was on hand to take the touch and guide the ball into the back of the net.
Chorley ‘keeper Meghan Pope made some great stops to keep her side in the game, one of them coming just minutes later as she tipped Fenton’s strike onto the crossbar and clear.
She was unable keep out Blackburn’s third, though, a low strike by Walsh from the edge of the area.
Rovers stepped up the pressure and continued to threaten through Walsh, whose fierce curling strike was well-saved by Pope, and Clarkson, her stinging shot rising just too high over the crossbar.
With five minutes to go, Rovers kept up the attack and it was Jordan who notched her second and their fourth of the night, with a swift forward run into the box and a confident finish.
Fenton’s low free-kick then caused a scramble in the box, Clarkson getting the final touch to bag Rovers’ fifth.
Chorley committed two superhuman goal-line clearances to deny first Clarkson, then Cook as Rovers continued to swing in the set pieces.
They did get their sixth with just seconds remaining, however, and certainly saved the best til last as Chelsey Jukes unleashed a spectacular strike from distance which Pope had no chance of stopping.
Despite the heavy scoreline, Chorley gave a great account of themselves against higher-placed and well-experienced opposition, and should be proud of their strong cup run to reach the final.
This was the fourth consecutive Cup triumph for Rovers, and the county competition is evidently very important to them.
The challenge will be on to see whether they can make it five in a row and 13 altogether in 2018/19.
Blackburn Rovers Ladies: Hill (C), Jukes, MacDonald, Cook, Taylor (Pacitto, 87), Fenton, Holbrook, Walsh, Jordan, Cunliffe (Gerrard, 78), Montgomery (Clarkson, 59)
Subs not used: Size, Shepherd
Chorley Ladies: Pope, King, Mitchell (C) (Bowes, 78), Nickson, Bonner (Pilling, 74), Topping, Coope, Wood, Yeoman, Ball (Cullen, 59), Walker
Subs not used: Pearson, Wootten