A decimated Hull City Ladies side fell to a 4-1 defeat away at Stoke City Ladies on a chilly winter’s afternoon in the Potteries. Despite the defeat the young Tigresses learnt a lot today that will stand them in good stead for the future.
The Tigresses were without their Captain and Vice-Captain, Jo Symington and Natasha Cooke, through injury and illness respectively while Ellice Jackman also remains sidelined with another bout of illness. That meant the Tigresses were missing a huge chunk of experience at the back and a major reshuffle was needed. Amy Kay moved to centre back alongside 16 year old Molly Lunn with Tillie Oxley continuing at right back and Hope Knight stepping back to left back. With that in mind it was always going to be tough to get any sort of result today.
Inevitably the home side started the game the brighter and looked to take the Tigresses on early. Amy Halloran had to be on hand as early as the second minute to deny Stoke the opening goal. Despite the early danger City Ladies didn’t panic and looked to work their way into the game. Their first chance came in the twelfth minute. Excellent interplay between Hope Knight and Harley Skinner resulted in Knight firing a shot narrowly wide from the left hand side of the box.
Just two minutes later the Tigresses took a surprise lead. A free kick midway into the Stoke half was drilled into the box by Amy Blinkhorn. It was only half cleared and the ball fell to Rachael Ackroyd at the edge of the box. She swivelled and hit a powerful low shot into the bottom corner to register her first goal from open play this season. It was an excellent finish to give the Tigresses a 1-0 lead.
Sadly the lead only last ten minutes as Stoke were awarded a penalty in the 24th minute. Stoke looked to exploit the inexperienced Tigresses defence by playing balls in behind and that led to Amy Halloran having to bring down Ashleigh Hayes who was looking to take the ball round her to score. Luckily Hayes’ last touch before she was brought down took the ball away from goal slightly so Halloran wasn’t shown a red card. She couldn’t prevent the equaliser though as Tash Tezgel hammered the ball home from the spot to make it 1-1.
In the blink of an eye the home side were in front. Youngster Molly Lunn misjudged the power required for a backpass and the short pass was pounced on by Amy Hughes who took the ball round Halloran and passed it into an empty net to give the home side a 2-1 lead after 26 minutes. The home side were on a roll now and they blitzed the Tigresses with a third goal in just six minutes. They got the ball in behind the City Ladies defence once again and a low cross from the left was tapped home by Ashleigh Hayes to make it 3-1.
As the first half continued the home side looked likely to score every time they went forward. In the 34th minute Tezgel hit a point blank header wide while the Tigresses did have a half chance at the other end when Amy Kay hit a shot straight at the goalkeeper. If the result wasn’t already certain it was made so in the 40th minute thanks to an absolute screamer from Kelsey Richardson. She let fly with a shot from 25 yards that arrowed into the top corner giving Halloran no chance. The home side now led 4-1 which was harsh on the Tigresses who had a wobble in the middle of the half that Stoke exploited expertly.
HT Stoke City Ladies 4-1 Hull City Ladies
It’s fair to say the second half performance from the Tigresses was excellent. They were hit with a ten minute blitz in the first half that killed the game but they kept their heads up and played with pride in the second half. In the 48th minute Misty Russell had a shot from distance saved while at the other end Amy Halloran made a point blank save to keep the score at four.
For the next twenty minutes the Tigresses bossed the game. They played with energy and commitment and made life very difficult for the home side. They had a few half chances but unfortunately they couldn’t find the goal they deserved. Meg Calvert and Jodie Steadman came on for more valuable experience and they didn’t look out of place in the last twenty minutes.
The defence was much more organised in the second half but Stoke are a quality side and they did manage to create some chances. Luckily Amy Halloran was always on hand to deny them. A piledriver from range was tipped around the post while she did well to hold onto a powerful shot from 10 yards late in the game. The Tigresses kept pushing to try and find another goal but it wasn’t to be however to keep a second half clean sheet was some achievement.
FT Stoke City Ladies 4-1 Hull City Ladies
On paper this looks like a disappointing result for the Tigresses but we came away from the game proud of the effort and the performance of the very young team. Several teenagers graced the side again and the big reshuffle at the back didn’t help matters. Stoke exploited that well in the first half but the Tigresses matched them in the second half and the young players should take a lot of pride in that. Hopefully some of the FOURTEEN players currently missing from Rachel Gay’s squad return for the big FA Cup away game at Long Eaton next week.
Our player of the match award today goes to Amy Halloran. She made several brilliant saves today and did well to come out of her box quickly on many occasions to clear her lines. She gave away the penalty but there was nothing she could really have done differently and she kept the score respectable in the first half. A couple of her point blank saved were as good as we have seen from any keeper this season. Well played Amy!
We spoke to a very upbeat Tigresses manager Rachel Gay after the game and you can watch the video below,