MERLEY COBHAM SPORTS LADIES 0
WEYMOUTH WOMEN 4
Ackerman 4’ 48’ Howard 7’ Potter 68’
Dorset Women’s League (10/04/22)
Terras Take The Title
Report: James Spring
They were made to wait due to several postponements, but Weymouth Women finally sealed the Dorset Women’s league title on Sunday, and they did so in style with a dominant win away to their nearest challengers, Merley Cobham Sports.
Weymouth were missing influential midfielder Becca De Havilland but they were able to welcome Sophie Webber-Green back into the fold. They came into the game knowing that just a point would be enough to seal the title with one game to spare.
Any thoughts that Weymouth would take it easy and play it safe for the draw were soon dismissed though as the Terras absolutely stormed out of the blocks, and they hit the front just 4 minutes in.
Merley were caught out trying to play out from the back as Weymouth pressed them high. They forced the error, and Naomi Johnson picked up the loose ball before laying off for Dani Ackerman who glided past a defender and rifled the ball into the top left corner to give Weymouth a dream start.
It was as if weeks of frustration at postponements were motivating the Terras, as just 3 minutes later they doubled their advantage. This time Ackerman turned provider – getting to the byline before squaring it for Shakira Howard to tap in from a couple of yards out to have Weymouth in dreamland after just 7 minutes.
Ackerman continued to be Merley’s tormenter in chief, as she had a string of corner kicks from the left flank which Merley struggled to clear, before a neat one-two on the edge of the box between Beth Barnard-Irons and Naomi Johnson resulted in the latter stinging the goalkeeper’s palms.
There was no let-up from Weymouth, and they were agonisingly close to adding a third goal on 16 minutes when Shakira Howard’s cross fell for Charlie Wilson running in at the back post. Her first time shot cannoned back off the crossbar before a scuffed follow-up shot was comfortably held by the goalkeeper.
On 23 minutes Kristina Manktelow forced the Merley goalkeeper into a brilliant diving save after a driving run resulted in a shot from the edge of the D. Shakira Howard couldn’t quite get to the rebound and the keeper was able to hold it at the second attempt.
Howard thought she’d scored her second of the game a minute later when she slotted home Beasley’s cross at the back post, but she was deemed to be offside and the goal was disallowed.
Manktelow was causing plenty of problems with her pace, and another driving run from the halfway line resulted in her hitting one from some 25 yards which was blocked by a defender and hacked to safety.
As the clock ticked towards half time, Merley were able to stem the tide and spend a bit of time in the Weymouth half of the field, though they were unable to trouble the Terras’ goal, as Weymouth took their 2-0 lead into half time.
Any lingering doubts of the outcome were banished just 3 minutes after half time, as Dani Ackerman added her second and Weymouth’s third of the afternoon.
Another Manktelow driving run took her into the box and she saw her shot from around 12 yards blocked by the goalkeeper. But the ball came straight out into the path of Ackerman, and she rifled the ball into the bottom corner, beating the keeper at her near post.
Player-Manager Tasha Sibley saw a shot blocked on the goal line by a covering defender ten minutes later, as Weymouth looked for more goals.
Merley were able to calm things down a bit as the second half wore on, and the game descended into a pattern of Weymouth having possession and probing, but Merley’s rear-guard putting up staunch resistance to keep the score down.
A fourth goal would arrive for Weymouth on 68 minutes. Kristina Manktelow delivered a beauty of a corner that landed at potter’s feet a couple of yards out, and she had the simple task of knocking it over the line to make it 4-0.
With a quarter of an hour to go, Manktelow would strike the crossbar with a powerful strike from the edge of the box, whilst Charlie Wilson and Tasha Sibley both saw efforts go narrowly over the crossbar, as the second half began to fizzle out.
The Weymouth team had been ready to celebrate for most of the game, and the full-time whistle finally confirmed them as Dorset Women’s league champions for the 2021-22 season. The whole bench spilt onto the pitch to embrace their teammates, as the celebrations began in earnest with every item of kit being drenched in champagne.
And who could blame them? To win the league with a game to spare is a remarkable achievement, and to do it in such style with a dominant display against their main challengers made it all the sweeter.
And just to round off a perfect day for Weymouth Women, the Development Team were confirmed as champions of the Rec league in their very first season, after their main rivals Shaftesbury could only manage a draw at Bridport. A cause for double celebration!