WOMEN’S FOOTBALL: Argyle boost survival hopes with big win over Milton Keynes

PLYMOUTH Argyle took another giant step to securing their FA Women’s National League status by hammering fellow relegation rivals Milton Keynes Dons 5-1 on Sunday at Manadon.

The victory was Argyle’s fourth in a row and it moves them up to ninth in the table – four points clear of Milton Keynes, who sit in the final relegation spot.

The Pilgrims also have games in hand on the four teams immediately below them so they will now be favourites to avoid the drop.

The hosts got the start they wanted on Sunday when they took the lead in the eighth minute with a goal from Natasha Knapman after a pin-point cross from Mari Ward.

It got better for Argyle seven minutes later when the visitors turned the ball into their own net after  Beth Ireland had fired in a cross for Knapman.

But Milton Keynes wanted the points as much as the Pilgrims and they got back into the game with a goal from Nicole Pepper.

Crucially, though, Argyle got a third goal just before half-time when Zoe Cunningham, who had come on a substitute just four minutes earlier, curled a shot into the bottom corner.

Having a two-goal lead allowed the Greens to be more composed second half and they got a fourth goal on 62 minutes when Knapman got her second after good play by Cunningham.

Ward and Jemma Rose both had chances before Cunningham also got her second to totally put the game beyond doubt.

In the South West League Premier Division, Marine Academy Plymouth were without a host of players for their home game against Forest Green Rovers and they ended up going down 7-0.

Marine defended brilliantly for half-an-hour, but Forest Green scored with a long range shot on 31 minutes through Hattie Jones and then added two goals within two minutes just before half-time courtesy of Zoe Boyd and Jones.

They then scored straight from the second-half restart through Faith Pound to deflate any hopes Marine had of getting back into the contest.

Rovers added two more within the first 13 minutes of the half, with Louise Fenson and Charlie Rowlands netting, but then Marine held them out until three minutes before the end when Jones completed her hat-trick with a fine solo effort.

Meanwhile, Activate were crowned Devon League Western Division champions after they beat their nearest challengers Torquay United Reserves 3-1 at Devonport High School for Boys.

Kirsty Jones scored twice for unbeaten Activate, with Stephanie Warren netting their other.

Activate have one game left – away at second-from-bottom Plainmoor – to finish with a 100 per cent record.

In the Devon Women’s League Cup, Lakeside were beaten 5-1 at home by Teignmouth. Carmen Thornton scored Lakeside’s goal.  Athletic were in the game for 70 minutes but just ran out of steam in the final 20 when Plainmoor scored four goals.

In the Cornwall Women’s League Cup, Saltash Borough were handed a walkover Foxhole Stars to move into the semi-finals.

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