Hull City Ladies travel to Oakwell tomorrow to take on Barnsley Ladies FC (kick off 2pm) in their last pre-season friendly before starting their debut Northern Premier Division campaign next Sunday at home to Stoke City at Hull University.
Tomorrow will give manager Rachel Gay and head coach Danny Johnson the last opportunity to see their side in match action ahead of the last week of training before next week’s eagerly anticipated opening league fixture.
Last season’s championship winning squad remains largely in tact and all the girls are fully focused on making a good start in the Northern Premier Division which represents a huge step up in quality from last season.
You only have to look at the teams who make up this division to see what challenges lie ahead for the Tigresses. Teams such has Stoke, Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Middlesbrough who enjoy a close working relationship with their professional male counterparts are well established at this level. The Tigresses with NO affiliation with Hull City AFC don’t have these luxuries. Other sides in this league such as Sunderland Ladies and Doncaster Rovers Belles have had sustained success in higher divisions in the past.
The Tigresses though have more than enough talent in their squad to compete with these sides and the rest of the division. One player who maybe took a little time to find her feet last season in the side was attacking midfielder, Liberty Bott. Lib showed glimpses of pure quality last season in particular towards the latter end of the season and she has carried this on during pre-season. She has a fantastic range of passing, a keen eye for goal and is strong in the tackle and she will shine at this level.
A cracking player returning to the City Ladies ranks this season is Emily Smith after a spell at Doncaster Belles. The diminutive Smith as pace to burn and is tenacious in everything she does. An excellent crosser of the ball, Emily will provide plenty of ammunition for the Tigress strikers to feed off, as well as her own ability to find the back of the net.
Youngster Evie Barrett will be looking to force her way in to regular first team reckoning after last season’s tremendous campaign for the reserve side which saw her sweep the boards at the last awards evening for the reserve team.
As stated earlier The Tigresses have no affiliation with the Allam owned Hull City AFC and therefore no financial backing and are entirely self funded. In the past few months the Tigresses have teamed up with Pineapple Sports, a locally based company, who have been working tirelessly in the background to increase revenue for the club and also increase the profile of Hull City Ladies FC. The club and Pineapple Sports have introduced a number of sponsorship/advertising packages which are starting to bear fruit which will hopefully give the Tigresses a secure pathway to the higher echelons of the Women’s football pyramid.
Any company or individuals out there who want to support the Title winning side progress even further can contact Pineapple Sports on 07415 996651 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the club direct. Its a fantastic opportunity to help Hull City Ladies blossom and grow into an elite Women’s football team.
Next week’s game versus Stoke will be a great test to start the season and we’d encourage all supporters old and new to come down and support the Tigresses. New fans will not be disappointed at the quality on show and the friendly welcoming atmosphere that is always felt when the Tigresses take the field.
Pictures courtesy of Dave Hare.