Impressive win for City girls
Dundalk City continued their winning ways registering an important victory over Benfica at South End Utd grounds in Waterford.
Played in blistering 25 degrees sunshine, the weather was more conducive to relaxing at the nearby seaside resort of Tramore.
City started slowly conceding a controversial off-side goal on five minutes to striker Carol Breen. Dundalk gave away a soft corner following a needless back pass, and Linda Douglas' flag kick was cleared by the defence. The ball was returned to a clearly off-side Breen who found the net.
Jolted by the early setback City fought back with determination and a flicked header from Stephanie Roche created an opening for Emma Gorman but 'keeper Sinead Flynn advanced smartly to deny her.
Grace Murray tested the 'keeper with a stinging free kick, while Benfica were denied at the other end when Fiona Butler saved from Stephanie Halligan's effort, and Breen was foiled by a tremendous tackle in the box by City captain Bronagh Malone on the half hour.
The visitors drew level on 33 minutes when Gorman forced a corner on the right, and Murray's delivery found debutant Roche at the back post and she slotted home.
Dundalk took the lead 3 minutes later when Olivia Grant was fouled on the edge of the area. From the resultant free Murray's low drive was spilled by the netminder and a determined Tara Nevin was fastest to react, forcing the ball home from 6 yards.
As half-time approached City were unlucky not to increase their lead when a rasper from Lynch from 30 yards rebounded off the base of the post.
Dundalk introduced Susan O'Connell at half-time for Sandra McAleavey and she put in a number of telling crosses to keep the home defence on their toes.
City had a let-off on 53 minutes when a long throw from Emma Griffin deceived a strangely hesitant defence and fell to Halligan but somehow she cleared the crossbar with a goal at her mercy.
A minute later Emma Gorman settled the visitors' nerves when she reacted fastest to a great strike by Roche and followed up to beat the keeper from 5 yards, 3-1.
Lisa Dower pulled one back for Benfica on the hour when she got on the end of a clever free kick to head home.
Benfica piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser, and Lynch and Nevin put in some challenging tackles in central midfield to stem the tide.
City then stretched their lead when Murray floated a great delivery over the defence for Roche to collect, advance on goal and power home from 25 yards, 4-2.
Dundalk sealed victory ten minutes from the end of normal time. Gorman collected on the edge of the area with her back to goal, swivelled and struck to the far corner for a sublime goal.
Benfica never gave up with Butler making two important saves in the closing minutes.
In an impressive display Lynch and Nevin impressed in midfield, Irish U19 International striker Stephanie Roche had a dream debut forming a lethal partnership with Emma Gorman, daughter of former Linfield and Dundalk FC striker, Dessie Gorman. She is improving with every game, and both girls will cause many problems to opposing defences as the season progresses.
In defence Murray's distribution from left back was a telling factor throughout.Dundalk City: Fiona Butler, Clodagh Mulholland, Bronagh Malone (cpt.), Eilis Nevin, Grace Murray, Olivia Grant (Jeni Mulligan), Sandra Lynch, Tara Nevin, Sandra McAleavey (Susan O'Connell), Stephanie Roche, Emma Gorman.