March update from the CUFC Ladies teamCarlisle United Ladies continued their strong start to the new year in March with a further four victories across an unbeaten month extending Tracy Gannon’s side’s winning run to five.
Having enjoyed a four nil win over Preston North End Ladies to end February, the Lady Cumbrians welcomed Preston to Creighton to open the month and added another three points to their league tally.
Starting brightly, United carried a one nil lead into the interval with the prolific Imogen Longcake adding to her tally for the season to get the scoring underway. Longcake completed her hat-trick after half time before Stacey Harkness delivered the coup de grace in this fixture sponsored by The Local, 108 English St as United once again hit four past Preston, this time for response of just one.
Recent signing Ciara Bland impressed en route to the Player of the Match award, and it would be another strong performance from Gannon’s side as they made the short trip to Kendal Town Ladies looking to make it three wins in a row.
Sharina Robinson opened the scoring for the Lady Cumbrians as she slotted home a 21st minute penalty and the advantage was two just eleven minutes later as Longcake tapped in a Gillian McGimpsey cross at the far post. Deliverer then turned scorer shortly before half time as McGimpsey fired the ball into the top corner from 30 yards to take United into half time with a 3-0 lead.
Longcake added the fourth mid-way through the second half and despite Town pulling a goal back with 20 minutes to go the visitors’ response was immediate. United’s leading marksman first latched onto a good ball out of defence from Melissa Mallin to slot home before doing well to outmuscle her defender and find the target under pressure.
The seventh and final goal came one minute into stoppage time following excellent work from Erin Marley to win back possession in the box before laying off for Player of the Match Longcake to hit home her fifth.
A break from league action saw Tracy Gannon’s side in Cumberland FA Women’s County Cup action with a Semi-Final tie against the Club’s own Development squad, who had progressed to the last four of the cup in just their second year of competitive football.
It was a game of many positives with encouraging performances from many of the Club’s emerging players. Longcake, McGimpsey, Marley, Georgia Smethurst and Mallin were all on the scoresheet for United’s first team with response from the Development squad coming through Jess Hawkins.
Speaking after the Semi-Final victory, Manager Tracy Gannon said: “Today was always going to be difficult with both teams playing each other as you’re happy for the side going through but feel for the other. The first team equipped themselves well and focussed on the job in hand.
“It was great to see the Development squad playing their first Semi-Final with five new players stepping up from Under-16s, who showed real promise and spirit. Credit also to the senior players who played alongside them meaning they would forego a place in the Final as they would be cup tied. A massive thank you to Silloth FC for supporting us to ensure today’s game could go ahead.”
The victory sees United Ladies progress to a third straight Women’s County Cup Final, having lifted the trophy two seasons ago. The opponents in the Final will be Penrith AFC Ladies with the game taking place on the evening of Friday 5 May, the day before the final game of the SkyBet League Two season, at a venue to be announced.
A return to league action saw continued success as United completed their 100% record for the month through victory at Leigh RMI Ladies, climbing to fifth in the league table in the process.
It was once again Captain Sharina Robinson the first name on the scoresheet as she broke the deadlock on 35 minutes, stabbing home at close range. Quick fire goals for the hosts shortly after the restart handed them the lead, but United set about their task of restoring their advantage well.
Ciara Bland and Clare Almond in particular were doing excellent work for the Lady Cumbrians in the middle of the pitch and it was a familiar outlet that provided the next breakthrough as Longcake directed home an Emma Blenkinship corner to restore parity.
United had the lead back within three minutes of this goal as McGimpsey found the target from range for the second league game in a row, before the victory was completed seven minutes from time as Blenkinship was played through by Cally Martin and broke before slotting home.
The run of victories leaves Gannon’s side needing just one win from their remaining two games in order to secure fifth in the North West Womens Regional League Division One North table, with the first of those games a return visit of Leigh to Creighton. Academy Juniors then make the trip north to conclude the season’s league programme ahead of the Women’s County Cup Final in May.
The football doesn’t stop there, however, as United’s Development squad commence their new Cumberland FA Women’s League programme with four fixtures in April.
Don’t forget that you can keep right up to date with the team’s latest news by following them on Twitter, @CUFCLADIES, and liking them on Facebook, /CarlisleUnitedLadies.