VBET Women's Premiership League Cup


30 Jun 2024
© Paul Harvey

Cliftonville Ladies retained the VBET Women's League Cup with a two-goal victory over Lisburn Rangers at the Blanchflower Stadium.

The Reds bossed proceedings from the off, almost breaking the deadlock as early as the ninth minute when Kirsty McGuinness executed a pinpoint delivery to tee up younger sister Caitlin down the left but her effort was smothered by keeper Emma Higgins.

The roles were reversed just a couple of minutes later, however, when Caitlin ran onto Victoria Carleton's ball over the top to square it for Kirsty to knock home at the far post - and make history as the first player to score in three different League Cup finals.

© Paul Harvey

Looking to cement Cliftonville's advantage, the McGuinness sisters continued to threaten the Rangers defence. Kirsty came close with another effort - a right-foot drive just over from outside the area - followed by a Caitlin attempt from inside the area after Louise McDaniel had played her through.

McDaniel came within a whisker of finding the net herself midway through the first half only to hit the crossbar from Abbie Magee's right-side cross.

Toni-Leigh Finnegan then smashed a low effort from the edge of the box off the right post, and then saw another effort impressively turned away for a corner by Higgins … and from the resultant set piece the Rangers keeper again showed her class by tipping over Kirsty McGuinness' shot from the edge of the area.

And Higgins was called into action again just before the break to deny Caitlin McGuinness with a superb reflex save from close range and, moments after that, to make a brave stop to thwart Kirsty.

© Damien Toolan

Cliftonville almost grabbed their elusive second goal eight minutes after the interval after Caitlin McGuinness ran with the ball into the area, held off her marker and laid the ball across for Finnegan but, again, Higgins produced a brilliant diving save to turn the ball behind.

The second half proved to be less free flowing, with less opportunities created, although the Reds could have doubled their advantage on 70 minutes when Magee sent a powerful left-foot effort just over the top from outside the area.

However, as time ticked away, Rangers pushed hard for the equaliser, coming close on 79 minutes when Cliftonville keeper Rachel Norney dropped a corner under pressure from Faye Loughran before managing to scramble the ball away.

Then, five minutes after that, Ellie-Mae Dickson broke down the right to cross the ball for Gracie Conway just outside the area but her strong strike crashed back off the crossbar before, moments later, Sophie Megaw saw a follow up charged down by Norney.

But Cliftonville made sure deep into stoppage time when, following a flowing move, Marissa Callaghan cut the ball across for Carleton to execute a calm finish past Higgins.

© Paul Harvey

Cliftonville Ladies: Norney, Burrows, Doherty, Morgan, Finnegan, Maxwell, McDaniel, C. McGuinness, Carleton, K. McGuinness, Magee subs McAllister, O'Neill, Devine, Callaghan, Markey, O. McGuinness, Irvine

Lisburn Rangers: Higgins, F. Loughran, Parker, McGreevy, Gelston Mulholland, Burden, Dickson, Megaw, McConnell, M. Loughran, Conway subs O'Rawe, Wilson, Tumelty, Walker, Little