When Hull City Ladies started life in the 3rd tier of Women’s football this season all the talk was about consolidation in the Northern Premier Division, and with still over half the league campaign to go it’s looking like that aim has already been achieved by the Tigresses.
If you’d have asked manager Rachel Gay and head coach Danny Johnson back in August if they’d have taken 11th place and safety at the end of their first ever season at this level then in private at least they would’ve said yes, but like with everything the management duo do they strive to be the best they, and their squad can be so in public the answer would probably have been an emphatic NO.
With this in mind ahead of two home games with Sheffield FC Ladies (11th November) and Middlesbrough Women (18th November) to come, the Tigresses sit in ninth place, level on points with 7th placed Guiseley Vixens on a healthy 13 points from 10 games and just three points off the top 5.
Nine of the Tigresses 13 points have come away from home so with a run of fixtures at Hull Uni against sides around them in the league, manager Gay recently told FanaticHull that the girls would be looking to turn their home patch into a bit more of a fortress and add to their points tally.
Frustratingly at this time of the year the season starts to become a bit stop/start and as a consequence the Tigresses have had only two away league fixtures in the last month. The performances at lowly Guiseley and Bradford City Ladies couldn’t have been any further apart in terms of quality though and this inconsistency in collective and individual performances is something the entire coaching team and squad are working on tirelessly.
Guiseley was a game that Gay openly admitted to FanaticHull that they had targeted as a win, but it didn’t transpire on the pitch. On reflection it was probably the worst Hull City Ladies performance for the last 2-3 years. Despite taking a very early lead the girls just weren’t at the races. Guiseley dominated every area of the pitch, individual battles were lost by every Tigress player, with the exception of recent recruit Amy Blinkhorn (pictured above) who is quickly becoming an influential member of the midfield. The Vixens wanted the win more and duly got it with a comfortable 3-1 win on the day.
Fast forward a week and the real Tigresses stood up. Travelling to Eccleshill FC to take on struggling Bradford City Women, the girls knew they couldn’t afford to perform as badly again this time against the basement dwellers. The body language and vibe, even in the warm up of the girls was much more upbeat and energetic and it showed from kick off. The Tigresses won the all important individual battles and unlike at Guiseley played like they were a team and not a bunch of strangers. The 1-3 scoreline didn’t reflect the dominance Gay’s side demonstrated for the 90 minutes.
Not for the first time this season City came up against a superb opposition keeper who kept the girls at bay for long periods and it could’ve been a much bigger scoreline but for Aimee Routledge in the Bantams goal and some wayward finishing.
Speaking to Hope Knight (above) after the game, she was frustrated with only converting 1 of her chances and felt she should have had a hat trick but acknowledged it’s a good thing she is getting into the positions for the chances to fall. Probably her own harshest critic Knight, will not be happy at not scoring more but she is still top scorer this season so far with 6 to her name despite not playing in her favoured left wing position due to the outstanding start Harley Skinner has had to her Tigress career in that role. Knight’s quality though is she is a top performer in any position and she was our POTM in the number 10 role at Bradford.
October’s player of the month award went to Amy Kay (above) who has been simply outstanding since returning to the side recently after a preseason injury curtailed her involvement early on in the season. Whether it’s been at centre back or a defensive midfield role, Kay hasn’t really put a foot wrong and it was great to see her score her first goal of the season at Bradford where she met a peach of a corner from Blinkhorn to power in an unstoppable header.
It came as a complete shock to most when it became public knowledge after last week’s Bradford game that the extremely popular and talented right-back, Meg Render announced her retirement from the game at just 25 years old! Meg has decided to step back from the game to spend more time with her partner and young son and with another baby due early next year she felt it was time to call it a day…….for now.
Speaking to Meg during the week, she reiterated how much she loved her 5 years at Hull City and being part of a squad that has achieved two promotions holds a special place in her heart. Also Meg confirmed to me that she would never play for another club if she ever reverses her decision and would only play for the Tigresses if Rachel and Danny would have her back. She also said she will always be a supporter of the club and will still be down at Hull Uni to cheer on the girls.
It’s safe to say ‘Meggers’ leaves with all the love and best wishes from everyone connected with Hull City Ladies.
You can catch the Tigresses in action at home against Sheffield tomorrow (11th November) and Middlesbrough (18th November), so get yourselves down to Hull Uni Sports complex on Inglemire Lane and roar the girls on.