It’s one of the most overused cliches in football but today’s game between Hull City Ladies and Derby County Ladies really was a game of two halves.
Where has summer gone? It was a blustery and damp day down at Hull University and in fairness the Tigresses first half performance matched the weather. They couldn’t get anything going in forward areas and looked laboured compared to last week’s performance.
The visitors Derby settled into the game much quicker than City and duly took the lead after just 9 minutes. A corner from the right was missed by everyone in a City Ladies shirt and Emily Joyce was free to meet the cross with a glancing header that nestled in the bottom corner, a far from ideal start for the Tigresses.
Most of the first half was played in midfield with the Tigresses enjoying much of the possession but doing little with it. Their first chance came after 17 minutes when Emily Smith hit a shot wide from the edge of the box. A few minutes later at the other end Amy Halloran had a claw at a shot from a goalmouth scramble but luckily she managed to steer it round the post. Halloran was on hand again in the 29th minute to tip a header over the bar from the centre of the box.
Despite being nowhere near their best for the opening half an hour the Tigresses did show a couple of flashes of what they were capable of. Ellie Tanser met a corner at the near post with a firm header that was blocked before the rebound fell to Ellice Jackman who also saw her shot blocked. A couple of minutes later Liberty Bott was given her first chance to shoot from the edge of the box but it went straight to the keeper.
Just two minutes later the Tigresses were punished for their misses at the other end. Derby countered quickly and the ball came to Andi Bell in the 6 yard box and the experienced striker made no mistake after being given too much time in the box. That goal came close to half time and it looked like it could be a long afternoon for the Tigresses.
HT Hull City Ladies 0-2 Derby County Ladies
The first and second half performances of the Tigresses were completely different. While as Rachel Gay admitted the team were lethargic in the first half they seemed energised in the second and took the game to Derby.
In the 52nd minute Bott had another long range shot that went just over the bar and you could sense on the sideline that momentum was building. The introductions of Harley Skinner, an enforced change due to an injury to Emily Smith, and Misty Russell who came on for Liv Jackson helped to swing the game in the Tigresses favour. Both subs were fantastic and made a real influence on the game. Skinner showed some great touches and terrified the Derby defence with her pace while Russell linked up well with Knight and Bott in the midfield and looked a real threat going forward.
The Tigresses got right back into the game in the 69th minute through Misty Russell but Hope Knight played a huge part in the goal. After having a quiet game by her standards she provided a moment of magic. She beat two defenders before pirouetting around a third to break into the box. She unleashed a shot that the keeper could only parry. The ball fell to Russell, who despite scuffing her shot slightly, got enough on it to wrong foot the keeper and put the ball into the bottom corner. Game on
City had their tails up now and just two minutes later they were level, Liberty Bott take a bow. We all know she is capable of special goals and this was another. City won a free kick about 22 yards out. Bott stepped up and curled a shot that hit the underside of the bar and came down over the line. Jo Symington made sure of the goal by smashing it into the net but the goal was Bott’s as confirmed by the linesman.
Suddenly Derby were well on the back foot, the Tigresses were dominating and hunting an unlikely win. Their best chance fell to Ellice Jackman who headed a corner wide with ten minutes to go and five minutes from the end Bott saw a shot go just wide after good link up play between Knight and Russell .
If the game had gone on for five more minutes the Tigresses would probably have won but the final whistle came just a little too early for City to find the winning goal.
FT Hull City Ladies 2-2 Derby County Ladies
Just like last season these two sides put on a great game, Derby dominated the first half and the Tigresses responded in the second to earn their first point of the season. A few players deserve a mention after that performance. Jo Symington was outstanding at the back winning every tackle she went in for. Harley Skinner looks like a real talent despite being only 16 years old and Misty Russell is showing what City missed last season when she had left and of course Liberty scored an absolute peach of a free kick.
The player of the match for us though was Ellie Tanser. She was exceptional in the second half, breaking up play in midfield, putting in some meaty challenges and getting the team onto the attack time and again with some neat passing. Same again next week please Ellie!
The final mention goes to Nigel Adkins. It was great to see the Hull City manager down at Hull Uni again today to support the Tigresses. This isn’t the first time he has come to watch the girls so fair play to him. We spoke to him after the game and he said he was really impressed with the Tigresses and the standard of the game in general adding that a draw was the least the team deserved and that he would be back soon. He bought a programme too, Nice one Nige!
We spoke to manager Rachel Gay after the game and you can watch her interview by following the link to your YouTube channel below.
Pictures: Dave Hare and Sam Shepherd