Shootout glory for Rozettes

TEENAGER Danny Da Silva became the first Rozel Rovers captain to lift the Colin Welsh Trophy following a landmark display in the Women’s JFA Cup final at Springfield.

Rozel Rovers lifted the Women's JFA Cup (formerly the Colin Welsh Trophy) for the first time on Thursday night Picture: DAVID FERGUSON
Rozel Rovers lifted the Women's JFA Cup (formerly the Colin Welsh Trophy) for the first time on Thursday night Picture: DAVID FERGUSON

The youngster was at the centre of celebrations after steering her side to a shootout success over St Lawrence – and setting the club on a course for a league and cup treble in just her second season as a senior.

An Eve Watson double was cancelled out by a brace of penalties from St Lawrence stalwart Fiona Mackinnon-Fox in normal time, with the sides then unable to separate themselves without the need for a showdown from 12 yards.

Following a minute’s applause in memory of Rozel club stalwart Charlie Ahier, the girls in blue worked themselves into the ascendency in the opening ten minutes, based on firm foundations provided by the diminutive, but highly talented Da Silva. The 17-year-old was a picture of composure and confidence at the heart of Rozel’s defence, rarely letting speedy St Lawrence forward Rosie Corbett out of her sight while showing a level of control that belied her years.

Long balls over the top have often been the preferred avenue for the parish outfit – particularly in their semi-final against Jersey Wanderers four days earlier, when Corbett frequently stretched her legs on the counter – but their success on that front was limited this time out. While Da Silva is not blessed with the height to intercept direct advances her positioning and pace certainly make amends. A standout performer, it was certainly fitting that she would later take the decisive spot-kick.

However, Rozel’s superior share of possession in the opening quarter resulted in little more than distant pop shots and they were soon handed a warning. Lara Couvert headed home an inswinging free-kick for the Saints, although her cheers were quickly quelled by a raised flag on the touchline.

St Lawrence centre-half Sylvie Spinola then found herself in the right place at the right time to unintentionally block a goalbound deflection from a right-wing cross, before Rozel finally took the lead off Macey Wyse’s corner. Watson’s header arrowed towards goalkeeper Chantelle Renouard, who could only push it onto the underside of the crossbar and over the line, before Michelle Bichard’s attempted clearance found the roof of the net.

Their advantage was short-lived, though.

Lucia Melim, already on a yellow, was perhaps fortunate not to be sent towards the tunnel early after tugging Corbett back in the box. Referee Gareth Walker offered a word of warning after pointing to the spot and Mackinnon-Fox converted under Tayah Vasse.

Rovers, who notched up 21 shots in total across the 120 minutes, continued to pepper Renouard’s goal after the break and Watson quickly doubled her tally with a shot across the face of goal from 18 yards.

St Lawrence – chasing a pandemic-split hat-trick of titles in this competition – following victories in 2017/18 and 2018/19 –were stunned but kept their chins high and remained a threat. Jess De Castro, who always offered hope, earned herself space to shoot inside the box with a neat pirouette, and while she could only force a corner the pressure soon told.

Vasse clattered through Jenny Cullen while attempting to clear but only succeeded in injuring herself and conceding another penalty. Mackinnon-Fox coolly slotted home again and Corbett should have handed St Lawrence the lead seven minutes later when clean through. She fired straight into the onrushing Vasse.

From there the intensity and precision from both sides dropped considerably as legs tired and minds were set to ‘avoid defeat’ mode.

Leah Morris remained lively, though – heading against the post from a corner before grazing the other upright with a strike from the left. She would complete the woodwork hat-trick in extra-time with a 25-yard strike that skimmed the crossbar.

Corbett was again wasteful as the 100th minute approached – rounding the keeper and taking a touch when a swing with the left would have found an open net – and Rozel themselves came within inches of sealing it without a shootout through Hannah Campbell. Renouard’s right-hand post still had a part to play.

Following four well-placed spot-kicks apiece Shannon Corbally fired straight at Vasse, but Marta Rodrigues produced an almost exact repeat moments later to send it into sudden death. With the score at 6-6, Spinola saw her rising shot parried wide and Da Silva did the rest.

Full report and reaction in Saturday's JEP.

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