Defended well in closing stages
Hartlepool United Under 23 Women 1 Darlington Women 2
Darlington Women clung on to a great three points at Hartlepool United Under 23s in the Durham County Women’s League on Sunday.
Hattie Raine and Chloe Ryan scored the goals, and then they helped defend strongly after Hartlepool pulled a goal back to set up a nervous end to the game.
Manager Shaun MacKenzie said; “I was delighted with the three points. The girls really dug in and grafted till the final whistle. We knew it was going to be a tough game on a heavy pitch and it was really difficult for both teams play football.
“I thought we started the game really well . We had to make a few changes after a couple of injuries last week and I thought the girls who came in done a terrific job in their roles. Hattie Raine and Chloe Ryan took their goals really well as they always do and gave us a deserved lead but we really should have been out of sight if we had taken our chances.
“Having said that, Hartlepool had a few chances of their own and I thought we defended fairly well, Evie Whittaker was outstanding in goal and we kept them out until the last ten minutes. A good finish by the Pools striker set up a nervy last ten minutes but I was very pleased with how we managed the game and managed to see it out and secure the three points. The girls showed character and resilience after losing to Amazons last week and I was happy with the reaction today and the desire on show.”
Here's the match report by Chris Barrett:
Darlington started quickly and fashioned an early chance in the second minute when the ball was manoeuvred into the box and played low from left to right to Chloe Bright at the back post but it was struck over.
Only a minute later Darlington worked the ball up the middle and a piercing ball was played through into the path of Hattie Raine who drove forward and struck a precise shot into the bottom left corner.
After early Darlington pressure Hartlepool settled into the game and in the tenth minute a direct attack allowed the pacey Hartlepool striker to breakthrough and hit a strong high strike at goal which was brilliantly saved by Evie Whitaker who pushed it high and had the awareness to get up and chase back and reclaim the ball after it bounced off the post.
A couple of minutes later, Darlington were in again with a cleverly clipped diagonal ball into the box from Chloe Ryan for Raine to chase and nip in but it was lifted just over.
After 17 minutes a smart through ball from Aimee Dagnall broke the defensive line and found Chloe Ryan who again drove into the box again and struck the ball low and hard to find the inside of the post and in the net to double the Darlington lead.
Hartlepool came back up the pitch soon after beating the offside trap and getting through on goal but shooting the ball over.
Before the break Hartlepool had another chance from a free kick but it was well saved by Whitaker to take Darlington into the break with a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, Darlington continued to probe down the right hand side. Raine played the ball from wide deep to the back post where it was well taken by Chloe Ryan but struck just over the bar. In the 55th minute it was Nicole Graham who broke down the right and drilled a low ball into Raine who took a good touch shifting the ball in front of her but the strike was just wide.
After 70 minutes Dagnall picked up the ball in the middle of the park and switched it to the left for Lily Wilkinson who brought the ball forward and got a shot away which was unfortunate to come off the post.
Only a minute later Hartlepool had another chance which again required the intervention of Whitaker to keep it out.
Darlington came close again when it was Ryan who beat the offside trap and got in 1v1 against the keeper and it took a great smothering save to keep it out. On the 81st minute Hartlepool won the ball back high up the pitch and quickly countered and with Whitaker off her line the striker hit the ball high and into the top corner.
This set up a tense final period of the game and after Hartlepool won a free kick just outside the box it took another great smothering save from Whitaker to keep the ball out of the Darlington goal.
Both teams were pressing to keep the ball high and Darlington managed to keep the ball well to manage the game until the end to hold on and secure the three points.
It was a difficult game for both teams with the pitch cutting up significantly in the middle of the park making playing the ball well difficult. Darlington will be happy to navigate this tough fixture and get another win with a number of key players missing.
There were a number of strong performances with Whitaker in goal making a number of fine saves and the midfield three who had a difficult task of keeping the play going on a difficult pitch with player of the match being awarded to Nicole Graham (sponsored by Stuart Shanks Painting and Decorating) for maintaining the discipline to keep breaking up the play in the middle of the park and setting the play for those around her.
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