Bradford Wakefield 1
When Belper visited Bradford Wakefield in September the score was 5-2 in the home side’s favour, so the narrow 1-0 loss suffered by the young Belper side gives a clear indication of the progress made in the intervening three months.
The p erformance will also give encouragement and confidence to the team for their remaining eight games, as they try to stay in the North Division of the National League.
Without their two regular central defenders, Anke Kozuch and Chloe Passant, through injury, Belper produced a disciplined and controlled performance to come close to taking a point off the side that lay fourth in the league table and only three points off the leaders.
Under-18 international Lucy Horn, 19, returning to Belper’s ranks after 18 months away, gave a masterly performance in terms of control and calmness, to marshal those around her in central defence. Bradford were unable to score in open play and their solitary goal came from a deflected penalty corner in the 24th minute.
As was to be expected, Bradford had the majority of the possession but the Nailers’ defensive organisation limited them to few scoring opportunities in open play and a total of seven penalty corners.
In the first half, Belper were unable to penetrate the Yorkshire outfit’s defence but in the second period, runs from Nat Tipper and Charlotte Hobbs earned Belper three corners.
Although all resulted in shots on target, Belper were unable to breach the Bradford line.
Two Bradford players received yellow card temporary suspensions at different times for persistent illegal tackling but Belper were unable to capitalise on the time that they were opposed by ten players.
What the solidity and cohesion of Belper’s play indicated was the significant progress that has been made with this inexperienced group of players since the start of the season, when the Nailers found themselves without nine of their previous year’s starting line up.
This Saturday’s match away versus fellow strugglers Aldridge now assumes considerable importance in the relegation battle.
Fixtures for Saturday,
Women’s Conference North - University of Durham v Doncaster (2pm); Aldridge & Walsall v BELPER (noon); Sutton Coldfield v Springfields UCLAN (noon); Wakefield Bradford v Sunderland (noon); Loughborough Students v Beeston (12.30pm).
Results for Saturday,
Women’s Conference No;rth - BELPER 0, Wakefield Bradford 1; Sunderland Ladies 5, Aldridge & Walsall 0.