Hull City Ladies got back to winning ways tonight as they beat strugglers Donny Belles 2-0. As Rachel Gay emphasised after the game though it was far from a perfect performance but the Tigresses got the job done and have registered three more valuable league points.
It became apparent early that this was going to be an entertaining, end to end game and it was the Tigresses who had the first chance. A clearance fell to Misty Russell in the second minute and she hit a fierce drive right down the throat of the Donny goalkeeper. A few minutes later Emily Smith was played through on goal and she hit a first time volley from the edge of the box that went just wide of the post.
Tillie Oxley deputised again at right back and she had another solid game. She almost created the opening goal in the 24th minute when she hit a cross from the right hand side to Hope Knight at the back post who could only head the ball over the bar before the Tigresses missed another headed chance a couple of minutes later when Natasha Cooke headed a corner just wide.
Going into the game the young Belles side were still without a point this season but they didn’t play with their heads down. They worked their way into the game and pushed the Tigresses back at times. Their first chance came in the 34th minute when a header from a corner was cleared off the line. From that corner City broke upfield and Emily Smith provided a low cross to the back post that Rebecca Beech flicked agonisingly wide of the post.
The rest of the half was end to end stuff and that would continue in the second half but neither team could find a goal before the break.
HT Doncaster Belles 0-0 Hull City Ladies
The pressure was starting to build after City hadn’t found a goal in the first half and Donny seemed to sense that and looked to exploit it. They almost opened the scoring in the opening five minutes of the second half when Amy Halloran saw a free kick smash off her crossbar. Donny were getting a head of steam up and they had another chance in the 54th minute when Amy Halloran scuffed a clearance and she had to sprint back towards goal to push the resulting Donny shot wide of the post.
After having a wobbly start to the half the Tigresses management duo sent on Amy Blinkhorn and she had an almost instant impact. In the 58th minute she swung in a corner from the right that was met with a bullet header from Ellice Jackman that almost took the net off! It was a pinpoint cross and a perfect header to give City Ladies the lead.
Despite going a goal down Donny kept going and their young players were still full of energy that they used to try and cause City Ladies problems. They thought they had equalised in the 64th minute of what was now a pulsating game. A header from a corner came down off the crossbar and the Donny players appealed for the goal, the rebound was fired onto the post and away and the referee gave a corner rather than a goal which was a massive let off for the Tigresses.
The woodwork was now becoming prominent at both ends of the pitch as the Tigresses almost doubled their lead in the 70th minute. Jo Symington hit a low cross to Rachael Ackroyd at the back post. She hit a powerful first time shot that the young Donny goalkeeper did brilliantly to tip onto the bar. A couple of minutes later City hit the woodwork again, this time through Knight who skimmed a shot off the outside of the post from a narrow angle.
The Tigresses were really pushing for a second goal now and they thought they had it in the 77th minute. Blinkhorn and Jackman combined perfectly again from a corner. This time Jackman volleyed the cross towards the top corner but the Donny goalkeeper came from nowhere to claw the ball off the line and away to safety. It was a world class save but City wouldn’t have to wait long to finally kill the game off.
The Tigresses second goal came in the 81st minute. A great team move began with Blinkhorn in midfield who found Emily Smith on the right. She threaded a ball through to Amy Kay in the box who showed great awareness to lay the ball back into the path of Hope Knight who smashed the ball past the goalkeeper from 6 yards to seal the win for the Tigresses.
City were now finally comfortable after a breathless second half. Donny had put up a real fight but the Tigresses saw out the last ten minutes comfortably and could have added another one or two goals towards the end.
FT Doncaster Belles 0-2 Hull City Ladies
This was far from the Tigresses best performance but in the end they did enough to get the win and they kept a clean sheet despite the best efforts of a spirited Donny side who were far better than their league position suggests. City return home on Sunday to face one of the best teams in the league, Sunderland, after picking up six useful points from three consecutive away games.
A few players stood out tonight. Tillie Oxley showed she has a bright future as she provided an assured performance at right back and looked to get involved in attacking play too. Amy Kay was solid in front of the back four while Amy Blinkhorn provided a real spark off the bench and looks like she has real quality to offer this season. Our player of the match award though goes to Ellice Jackman. The experienced centre back continued her fine start to the season with a brilliant performance that she capped off with the opening goal of the game. She headed everything and put in a couple of crunching but perfectly fair tackles. Well played Ellice!
We spoke to Tigresses manager Rachel Gay after the game and you can watch the video below.