1st Team
Sun 14 Apr 2024
1st Team
B Jones (53'), (55'), (77')


Doug Outt15 Apr - 18:54
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Derbyshire Ladies League Challenge Cup Semi-Final - Pride progress after close contest

Aimee Healy-Raynor remained sidelined by injury sustained last Sunday, but Jade Howell had recovered sufficiently to resume in goal, although Jodie Hill was available as back up. With Molly Boultbee away Eliot Sayavong slotted in at Centre back, with Katy Sharpe starting in midfield. Although not quite match-ready, it was pleasing to see Loren Roberts back after a three month lay-off.

Pride made a good start and had a couple of credible penalty claims within the first three minutes as crosses from Libby Queen and then Loren Kitching were blocked by defenders’ outstretched arms. In the first instance the Referee seeemed to indicate the defender’s arms were by her side - which they clearly weren’t - and for the second which was very similar, he was in a good position and was equally unmoved.

A good turn on the ball resulted in a first shot, just wide, by Beth Jones after 5 minutes. Wirksworth made their first foray into the Pride Park area a couple of minutes later, Eliot Sayavong dealing with two crosses before Jade Howell was forced into a save which she collected comfortably.

That effort aside, it was The Pride with most of the possession in the opening quarter hour, but unable to craft any further chances to show for it.

The pace of Loren Kitching and the trickery of Libby Queen was proving a handful for Wirksworth and the latter was on the end of a couple of ill-timed challenges for her trouble.

A Tash Allderidge free-kick after 22 minutes was heading towards the top corner but the keeper parried it, and then recovered to just beat Beth Jones to the loose ball.

Wirksworth won a corner after 25 minutes but a potentially dangerous ball into the box was claimed confidently by Jade Howell on the edge of her 6 yard box, and a few minutes later she was called into action again, collecting a dangerous low cross from the left.

As the half-hour approached Beth Jones fashioned a strike out of nothing that the keeper could only get her fingertips to, but it was enough to turn the ball onto the crossbar.

There was another penalty claim for The Pride on 39 minutes and if there might have been mitigating grounds for the first two, this one was clear cut. Beth Jones burst past two defenders and was in a race for the ball with the keeper, from which the ball broke free - the keeper, who had gone to ground, pinned Beth’s leg between her arm and body, preventing Beth reaching the ball and allowing a defender to clear. Inexplicably, the Referee waived it away.

As the half drew to a close, Wirksworth’s striker was through 1v1 but fired wide, and then Ellie Coleman evaded a challenge and crossed to Maja Znamirowska, who laid the ball off to Beth Jones - her first time shot kissed outside of the post from 20 yards.

It had been an eventful but evenly contested first half with limited chances, played with energy and intensity.

Half-Time: 0-0

Not long after the restart, Wirksworth missed an opportunity to take the lead, hitting the crossbar with the goal open, with Jade Howell lying prone after coming out to close down a striker in the build up, but hurting herself in doing so. It was a let off for The Pride and, with Jade unable to continue, Jodie Hill came on in her place.

Wirksworth did make a breakthrough, however, after 53 minutes - a shot from the edge of the area looped onto the crossbar and from the rebound an unstoppable shot was hit over and past Jodie Hill.

Wirksworth’s lead was short-lived, however - from the restart Annie Laight sent the ball straight up the pitch and Beth Jones latched onto a defender’s glancing header, touched the ball past the keeper and fired into an empty net [1-1].

A minute later and Pride had turned it around - Ellie Coleman swooped on a loose ball in midfield and swept a first time pass upfield for Beth Jones who got in front of the centre backs to coolly slot home past the advancing keeper [2-1]

Wirksworth completed a frenetic few minutes, equalising with another lethal strike from distance [2-2] - after a goalless first half, there had been four goals in as many minutes at the start of the second half.

Just after the hour it was Pride Park’s turn to hit the woodwork as Libby Queen spotted the keeper off the line and dinked a shot over her - only to be denied by the crossbar - Ellie Coleman’s shot on the rebound was blocked by a defender.

Wirksworth attacked down the left on 68 minutes and from the bye-line put in a dangerous looking low cross towards the edge of the six yard, but Annie Laight had taken up an excellent position and cut it out.

Both teams were battling hard and as they started to feel the effects of their endeavours on a tough pitch, the game started to open up.

A Wirksworth attack was broken up by Rachel Weaver and Libby Queen, before Annie Laight played a slide rule pass to split the Wirksworth defence, and a composed finish by Beth Jones past the advancing keeper completed her hat-trick and made it „advantage” Pride Park after 78 minutes [3-2].

Eliot Sayavong got her head to a terrific delivery from Tash Allderidge’s corner but her header just cleared the bar. With 8 minutes to play there was a chance for Ellie Coleman as she was put through by Beth Jones, but her shot under pressure cleared the bar.

As the game went into time added on, primarily for the stoppage due to Jade Howell’s injury, the Pride Park girls were giving it absolutely everything to hold on to the lead and make the final. A goal now for Wirksworth would lead to thirty minutes of extra time - Wirksworth were pushing forward and probing, but their through balls were swept up by Jodie Hill.

Two minutes into time added on a shot from distance looked like it might have just enough height but Jodie Hill judged it perfectly and caught the ball cleanly above her head. In a final attempt to draw level, Wirksworth worked the ball down the left, their striker cut inside - her shot was blocked and the rebound was hit high and wide.

After what had seemed like an extremely long four minutes of added time, the Referee brought the game to an end.

This was a massive win for The Pride, in what had resembled the football equivalent of two heavyweights fighting toe-to-toe. Pride must wait until next weekend to see which of Amber Valley and Buxton Women they will face in the Final at Matlock Town on 28th April.

This was a game where the starting 11 and finishing 11 proved to be really important. Maja Znamirowska, Jodie Hill, Jess Page and Izzy Wilsoncroft all came on to good effect. The first half was high energy and intense, but into the second half and from around the hour mark, the players were getting more tired on a difficult and energy sapping playing surface and the space was opening up a little bit more as evidenced by the number of chances. Having players to bring on at that stage of the game, who were fresh and brought something a little different, proved decisive.

In the first of two Cup Finals, The Pride face East Midlands Regional League side Long Eaton United next Sunday (21st) in the Derbyshire FA Women’s Plate Final at Long Eaton (ko 11am).

Match details

Match date

Sun 14 Apr 2024



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