Rozel Rovers coast into Zenith final

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Tamsin Kerr’s strike gifted Grouville a slender advantage for just over ten minutes at Le Couvent, but from there the floodgates opened and Rozel’s Anita Tavares, Jodie Botterill and Holly Muirhead helped themselves to 15 goals between them. Sam Silva added a second for Grouville mid way through the second half, but the tie was already dead and buried.

The clock had barely passed two minutes when underdogs Grouville took the lead. Silva made ground down the right and her cross was well controlled near the penalty spot by Kerr, who fired home into the corner.

Having won their previous game in the round-robin stage of the competition, and with renowned players like Muirhead and Botterill in their line-up, this wasn’t in the script for the home side.

It took a while for Rovers to settle, and Lia Whitnall could have doubled the visitors’ lead if she’d been able to take advantage of a mishit clearance, but then the home side struck. On 15 minutes, Anita Tavares was played through and finished clinically, and shortly afterwards Botterill launched a speculative long shot after spotting Grouville keeper Roisin Pitman off her line to make it 2-1.

The contest remained an even one past the half-hour mark, with chances at both ends, but the remainder of the first period produced a flurry of five goals from Rovers. Botterill’s perfectly-weighted through ball set up Muirhead for a clinical finish to make it 3-1, a move that also saw Pitman go down injured and replaced by Whitnall in goal. The new keeper produced superb saves from Muirhead and Botterill soon afterwards, but couldn’t stop both players finding the net from subsequent attacks, and then in added time Botterill powered home the sixth from the edge of the area and Tavares grabbed her second.

Saying that Grouville had a mountain to climb in the second half might serve to exaggerate the slope at Le Couvent, but the scoreline showed it was a tough challenge to get back into the game. Rovers’ manager Tim Pryor introduced Tegan Coutanche for her senior debut the day after turning 16, meaning the home side had three 16-year-olds up front.

It didn’t take long for Coutanche to make her mark, making progress down the right within 30 seconds of the kick-off and then crossing for Tavares to complete her hat-trick.

Tavares was prevented from adding to her tally by another full-stretch save by Whitnall, but when Botterill twice went one-on-one with the keeper it was no surprise to see another brace of goals.

To their great credit, Grouville continued trying to play football and there was no niggle in a contest well refereed by Neil Giannoni, who was firm but not fussy. And no-one could begrudge the visitors their second goal when Silva surged through and showed perfect control before firing home.

There was no stopping the Rovers’ goal-rush however, with two more for both Tavares and Muirhead, and one for Botterill – the former Welsh international seemed almost apologetic after her instinct for goal overcame any desire to play in her team-mates for scoring chances.

Muirhead was delighted to see her team win her final game before she heads to university in Chichester.

‘It was great to get a result after the early goal – the game was a bit scrappy to begin with but our players responded well and we had good control after that,’ she said.

Grouville manager Lee Coogan said: ‘It’s hard to compete when you’ve got the calibre of players that Rozel have up against you, but our girls carried on playing and had a great never-say-die attitude. Scoring goals was a problem for us last season, so it was great to see Sam take her chance so well towards the end.’

Rozel will meet St Lawrence in the Zenith Cup final on 28 September, following a 4-1 victory for the latter against Jersey Wanderers.

Rosie Corbett, Lisa Godinho, Laura Riley and Sylvia Spinola were all on the scoresheet for the Saints, with Natasha Keen replying for Wanderers.

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