It was a bit like ‘After the Lord Mayor’s show’ yesterday as the Tigresses failed to wrap up the league title. Played out under a blazing sun, Rachel Gay’s side failed to shine and fell to an underwhelming and thoroughly disappointing 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United.
The Tigresses simply failed to live up to the standards they have set themselves this season which was frustrating to say the least especially after last week’s magnificent performance over Brighouse Town which set up this chance to win the league with two games to spare.
Stunned by an early goal the Tigresses seemed to be off the pace all day. Newcastle were well organised, combative and physical for the full 90 minutes and won the majority of second balls and 50/50 tackles. The Toon put the Tigresses off their stride all day and as frustration began to creep in and play hurried the Tigresses just couldn’t put pressure on their hosts. When they did, the Tigresses created chances but not enough and when they did just couldn’t get the ball in the net.
Tash Cooke so nearly got the Tigresses back level in the first half with a superb header from a pinpoint Meg Render corner but as was the case all day the defence thwarted the effort. Gay’s side were denied a penalty in the first half when Hope Knight was clearly clipped as she surged into the box but the short sighted ref seem to think the defender got enough of the ball before Knight was felled. From my vantage point some 40 yards closer to the action it looked a penalty to me, but I maybe slightly biased.
Knight had a great chance in the 2nd half to bring it level after a brilliant run and pass from the tireless captain, Jo Symington but her effort was unusually slightly hesitant and the keeper managed to keep her clean sheet.
It just wasn’t to be though, Rachael Ackroyd, Rebecca Beech and Knight looked to find a way through or around the resolute home defence but time and again either a pass was over hit or a defender put in a timely interception. Liberty Bott and Katie Thompson added pace and impetus from the bench but couldn’t unlock Newcastle who had a willing outlet in the shape of Steph Ord up front who time and again dropped back into midfield to disrupt our flow and turn and run at Cooke and Amy Kay, relieving the pressure her side were under.
It was a dejected and upset bunch of players who trudged off the pitch at full time, and to a woman they knew they hadn’t been good enough on the day and honest enough to say so to us afterwards. We caught up with a couple of the girls later who though still hurting after the defeat had turned their attentions to next week’s home game versus Mossley Hill and the opportunity to win the title in front of their own fans.
Head coach Danny Johnson and manager Gay will undoubtedly reflect on the defeat, recognise what needs fixing and implement the changes in training this week. This defeat is only a minor bump in the title road and it’s for sure the girls will be flying in training this week and itching to right the wrongs and wrap up the title next Sunday, because that’s what Champion sides do.
Mossley Hill will be tough opponents who have a battle on their hands at the other end of the table but as we all know the Tigresses are not wounded for long and if they play anything like they can then they should be victorious.
We’d encourage everyone to get down to Hull University next Sunday, 2pm to cheer on the Tigresses and join what we are sure will be a promotion party.
Pictures courtesy of Sam Shepherd.