LTHC Ladies 1st XI 2 at Derby Ladies 1st XI 1

MRHAWL – Midlands Feeder East

Saturday 9th March 2019

In the hunt for their second promotion in as many years, Loughborough Town Ladies 1st XI travelled to Derby Ladies 1st XI on Saturday 9th March. With Derby sat just one point ahead of Town in 2nd place, the visitors knew a win would see them leapfrog their opponents into the automatic promotion spots.

Having been lucky to come away with a draw in their last meeting in November, Town knew that they needed to produce a top-draw performance to defeat a disciplined Derby side. In difficult conditions, it was Derby who started stronger. Town found themselves pressed in their own half, struggling to get the ball out of defence. Derby mounted a number of fast attacks on Town’s goal, with keeper Harriet Galpin making several smart saves to maintain the deadlock at 0-0. Derby’s best chance came 10 minutes into the game, when the ball fell to their forward at the top of the D after another broken down Town attack. Rushing out of her goal, Galpin did well to smother the first strike, but a lucky bounce saw the ball fall kindly for the Derby striker who stepped over Galpin and was faced with an open goal. Derby looked set to take the 1-0 lead when out of nowhere, Town captain Shana Featonby pulled off a heroic diving save to push the ball around the far post of the goal and deny Derby the lead.

Knowing that they were lucky to not be behind, the near miss acted as a catalyst with Town finding more energy and creativity in their own attacks. Some hard work in midfield by Ashleigh Godfrey and Emily Burgwin saw Town enjoy more possession. Just 5 minutes after nearly going behind, a fantastic run from Emma Weir set up a chance for Emily Hill in the Derby circle. Hill still had a lot to do from a tight angle to the left of the goal, but made no mistake in smashing the ball past the Derby keeper and into the net to give Town the unlikely 1-0 lead. Encouraged, Town continued to press and enjoyed more chances as Derby grew frustrated. Minutes later, a Derby foot inside the circle saw the ball ricochet to a waiting Alex Hardy whose reverse-stick strike saw the ball in the Derby goal for a second time. However, Town’s celebrations were short lived as they realised that the over-eager umpire had blown for a short corner and not played the advantage. Undeterred, Town lined up for the resulting short corner and justice was done as Georgina Godfrey’s strong strike from the top of the circle fizzed into the bottom left corner of the goal, perfectly placed between the keeper and post player. Although 2-0 up, Town still had defensive work to do as Derby didn’t let their heads drop. Gabrielle Morgan impressed at centre-back and Galpin dealt well with a lobbed attempt to see Town go into the half time break with their lead intact.

The second half started as the first half had, Derby’s press causing Town problems. Town’s defence worked hard to contain Derby with Katherine Laws, Katie MacKeith and Rebe Casselden doing well to mark the fast forwards of the home side. Player of the match Featonby cleared another goal line chance mid way through the half and Galpin stood strong to deflect a point blank range strike from Derby. Town settled into the half and could have added to their tally with several good opportunities in the circle. Hannah McCleery saw her lob attempt well saved by the Derby keeper. Town should have had another short corner after Lucy Walden saw her shot saved by the keeper who then promptly sat on the ball.

Derby were undeterred in their efforts and with just 10 minutes remaining, capitalised on a loose ball on the wing. Finally Galpin was beaten by a strong strike close to the goal, bringing the score to 2-1. With just minutes left on the clock, Town resolved to “shut up shop” defensively to see out the game and take the 3 points. Despite Derby’s best efforts they were frustrated time and time again as they struggled to get the ball out of defence past Town’s excellent high press.

Finally the final whistle blew and Town celebrated a fantastic victory. With just 3 games left in the season, the ladies sit just 2 points clear in 2nd place with the chance of automatic promotion to Division 2 of the Midlands league.

Categories: Match Reports