Blackburn Rovers defeat Coventry to secure place in FA Women's Championship

Saturday 18 May 2019
Blackburn players celebrate play-off final glory (image courtesy of @RoversLadies)

Blackburn Rovers hotshot Saffron Jordan scored again to fire her side to FA Women’s National League glory as they saw off Coventry United 3-0 at Valley Parade.

Jordan was on target in the first half before Natasha Flint’s chipped strike doubled the lead nine minutes into the second half.

And the Northern Premier Division champions rounded off their victory over their Southern Premier Division counterparts courtesy with a Natasha Fenton header as they clinched the overall title.

Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Coventry United
  • FA WNL
  • Championship play-off final
  • Saturday 18 May 2019
  • at Valley Parade, Bradford
Both sides enjoyed title-winning campaigns, and both will be playing in the FA Women’s Championship next season.

Coventry went close early on when Beth Merrick drove towards goal and from 20 yards out, she struck a fierce effort which beat goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons, to crashing off the crossbar before the ball was cleared away to safety.

Up the other end, Jess Holbrook’s corner was met by Kayleigh McDonald, who headed straight into the grasp of stopper Susan Wood.

With 25 minutes played, Fenton then had another Rovers chance but bent her shot from the right side of the area across goal and just past the left-hand post.

Blackburn broke the deadlock on 41 minutes after neat build-up play involving Fenton and Flint saw the latter feed strike partner Jordan inside the area – she powered the ball past Wood and high into the net.

Following the restart, Flint’s low effort from range drew a smart save from Wood prior to Helen Dermody’s 25-yard dipping attempt hitting the crossbar.

Rovers were 2-0 up with 54 minutes on the clock in West Yorkshire, with forward Flint latching onto Holbrook’s pass to loft the ball over the onrushing Wood.

Blackburn were in the hunt for more goals to add to their tally, buoyed by their lead, but when well-positioned on the left-side of the box, Lagan Makin could only drive the ball narrowly beyond the upright.

Rovers’ third came through a well-worked set-piece with 19 minutes left.

Holbrook fizzed a corner in from the left and midfielder Fenton was there to tower a header in packed six-yard bod and into the bottom-right corner of the net.

And Rovers captain Gibbons lifted the trophy as Blackburn were crowned overall National League champions.

Rovers manager Gemma Donnelly said: “With the disappointment that we had last season, I am so proud of the girls for sticking at it – they have been class all year and all season.

“We have waited so long for this and to do it in such style is brilliant, and we deserved it after the season that we have had.

“It was a tough first half and we knew it would be with the adrenaline and emotions, throwing tactics out of the window.

“It was going to be a bit of a free-for-all and that’s what it proved to be.

“We got a foothold into the game and then we got our goal, which settled us and got us into our rhythm. That helped us be dominant and show our class in the second-half, and I’m just thrilled for the girls.

“It is a team effort, and everyone has worked hard to get us in this position.

“They worked incredibly hard and we can celebrate – it’s the close of one chapter and the start of a new one for us.”

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Danielle Gibbons, Chelsey Jukes, Lynda Shepherd, Serena Fletcher, Kayleigh McDonald, Natasha Fenton, Jess Holbrook, Lauren Davies, Lagan Makin, Natasha Flint, Saffron Jordan.

Substitutes: Hannah Walsh for Fletcher 84, Alex Taylor for Davies 80.

Substitutes not used: Amelia Size, Ellie Stewart, Sophie Charlton.

Goals: Jordan 41, Flint 54, Fenton 71

Bookings: Lynda Shepherd 90

Coventry United (4-5-1): Susan Wood, Chenise Austin, Rosie McDonnell, Jade Brook, Nikki Miles, Natasha Merritt, Amber Hughes, Helen Dermody, Lois Jefferies, Amy Wathan, Beth Merrick.

Substitutes: Yasmine Klucis for Merritt 63, Erin Riden for Nikki Miles 63.

Substitutes not used: Marie Gauntlett, Ellie White, Jenna Roberts.

Referee: Rebecca Welch

Attendance: 539

By FA Staff