Hull City Ladies have their eyes firmly set on promotion this season and they are off to a flying start in the league. They sit top of the league with six wins and a draw from their opening seven games. They have been scoring goals for fun and haven’t conceded many so all in all it’s been a near perfect start for the Tigresses. They have quality all over the pitch including a back four who are on top form so far this season. Defence is just as important as attack and Rachel Gay will be hoping her defence can keep up their solid start to the season.
The Tigresses are led by skipper Jo Symington, the left back has really led by example so far this season and she marshals the defence with ease. You can always hear her barking out orders to the team which is what you want from your captain and the players feed off that. Symington is one of the squads most decorated players having scooped several Manager’s and fellow Players awards. While Jo is a defender she has struck up an excellent partnership with left winger Hope Knight who joined the club in the summer. The pair have been causing havoc down the wing so far this season with Symington orchestrating several of Knight’s early season goals.
A similarly exciting attacking wing partnership is forming on the right hand side thanks to Meg Render and Katie Thompson. Render is a no holds barred Right Back who must give her opponents nightmares. Never one to shirk a tackle Render is a real powerhouse at the back and bleeds Black and Amber. Render was brilliant in the away win at high flying Brighouse Town recently. She had her opposite number in her back pocket all game and linked up with Thompson on numerous occasions as Rachel Gay’s full back’s both looked to get attacks started from the back. She has had to deal with her fair share of adversity too as she suffered an ACL and meniscus injury in 2015 that kept her out for 12 months. A year’s hard rehab later and Render is back and making the right back spot her own again.
Now while Render and Symington like to get forward the Tigresses are also blessed with two solid centre halves who do the tough stuff! First up is Ellice Jackman who is another Tigress whose love for the club is clear to see as she was a previous winner of the Club person of the year award. Another one who isn’t afraid to bark out the orders Jackman is like a conductor at the back, she marshals the defence and the midfielders in front of her with authority. The excellent communication the team has during games is clear to see and hear and that all stems from the back. Jackman has got off to a great start this season and hopefully she and her new centre back partner can oversee several more clean sheets this season.
Jackman’s centre back partner is Natasha Cooke. The experienced 29 year old joined from Sheffield FC in 2016 after making over 100 appearances for them. Cooke has formed a solid partnership with Jackman and has nailed down a place in the starting 11 every week. She was player of the match at Brighouse after helping her side keep a clean sheet and scoring the winning goal with a bullet header from a corner. A team who can score goals all over the pitch is always a dangerous one and that will please Rachel Gay. Sheffield were gutted to see her go and their loss appears to be City’s gain.
If the Tigresses impressive defence is breached the opposition still have to get past the City Ladies keeper Amy Halloran. The 20 year old is off to a great start this season despite not having a great deal to do in some games. She was particularly impressive at Brighouse in the last few minutes when the Tigresses had their backs to the wall. She made some excellent saves in that game and in others this season so far and will hope to continue that good form in the weeks to come.
Rachel Gay strives for perfection from her team and so do the players. They were annoyed to concede a late goal in the 5-1 win over Leeds and that is the attitude you want to see from a team chasing promotion. Even with the game wrapped up the players were still gutted to concede and that shows just how hard the defence is working to improve every week. They will need to stay on top of their game with the likes of Eden Pedersen and Amy Kay waiting in the wings looking to grab a spot in the starting 11 especially after their strong performances in the reverse fixture with Leeds that City won 1-0. A lovely selection headache to have for Rachel Gay!