Manchester Stingers completed their season with a 2-0 home defeat to Blackburn Community at Kings Road.
Despite missing several players Stingers started brightly as Nicola Armstrong saw a shot from a narrow angle blocked before Chloe Spencer curled a corner just round the post. However they fell behind on five minutes from a long range Becky McGrath effort.
Armstrong went close again on 24 minutes when a header was flicked on into the path of Armstrong who beat Blackburn goalkeeper Amy Dixon to the ball but her lob bounced wide of the empty net. 12 minutes later Spencer came close again as a bouncing free kick almost caught out Dixon.
However it was Blackburn who finished the stronger and they should have doubled their lead just before half time when somehow Stingers managed to clear it despite a prolonged scramble inside the six yard box.
It took just eight minutes of the second half to double Blackburn’s lead as McGrath burst down the right, cut inside before pulling her cross back for Holly Masnfield to fire home in off the bar from a yard out. From that point Stingers failed to threaten as Blackburn Community creating several further chances, the best of which saw McGrath force Stingers goalkeeper Georgia Tsakin into an excellent save at her near post.
Despite the defeat Stingers Manager Ally Brown was pragmatic about the result; “It was always going to be a tough one when you’ve got 11 players and you can’t make any changes. Of late, we’ve had eight games in four weeks and that’s not allowed me to do any training whatsoever.”
However he commended the effort of players over the volume of football that they’d played noting that challenges that came with not being able to train; “Everyone who played put a shift in, they tried hard, that’s all you can expect.” “If you haven’t got that training then you can’t pass on that information to players and when you start to get beat and it’s difficult to get out of that groove and you’re thinking. Oh, we lost the last game, what’s the next game? You can’t work on anything.”
Brown commended the spirit of his players who’d reached two cup semi-finals and credited the improving strength of the league; “We got to two semi-finals, the County Cup and the Argyle Cup. I felt that we should have got to one final at least and that would have been a good achievement but to get to two semis is good. The league has improved since last year. The gulf is getting closer between the top teams and the bottom teams; and that will only improve with the sides coming up next year. I think the side has done very well this year.”
Asked what the newly promoted Merseyrail Bootle could expect next season Brown was confident that they would be able to compete at the higher level; “Knowing the sides that haven’t been able to get out of that division they will be more than capable. They will be a challenge for teams even attached to a professional club.”
“There’s more professionalism from other clubs. For independent clubs like ourselves its becoming more difficult to be competitive but we will always try to find ways to cause them more problems than they cause us. You can definitely tell that there is more finance and interest in the women’s game now because the standard of football is improving at this level.”
Following the match Manchester Stingers announced Ally Brown’s resignation however he praised Manchester Stingers and their vision and was confident that they would continue to grow from strength to strength as a football club; “It’s not all about the football here, it’s a very social club that welcomes everyone no matter what their background or what their commitment is and we welcome new players all the time.”
“It’s all about them and the team that’s in there. It’s about them being together and if we can encourage new players into the team and have the same mentality and the same willingness to play and enjoy the social side of it then the club will be here for a while and so it should be.”
Manchester Stingers will begin their search for a new manager ahead of the new season which begins in September.