Laight Goal Decides Close Encounter

Pride Park 1-0 Chesterfield Development

By Boot Room

Above: Izzy Ely on the charge for Pride Park against Chesterfield. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

The Ladies welcomed Chesterfield Development to Moorways on Sunday. Pre-match heavy drizzle left the pitch wet on top, but as the rainclouds disappeared the temperature rose and the sun put in an appearance, drying out the surface and making it a warm and muggy afternoon.

After being stretched by injuries and other commitments last week, we had the relative luxury of four substitutes yesterday – which considering the warm and humid conditions was just as well – although two were combining the warm up with a late fitness test!

The game attracted a large crowd, easily our biggest of the season, perhaps tempted by the prospect of some good football and a close game, after the previous meeting between the sides ended in an equaliser for Chesterfield and a winner for Pride Park both coming in time added on.

If that was the case, they won’t have been disappointed, as both sides played some good football that was easy on the eye.

The visitors got the game underway and made a bright start to the game. The Pride were a little slower into their rhythm, but it was the home side who had the first sight of goal; Annie Laight’s shot going wide. Summer Evans burst through a little after the quarter hour and just beat the keeper to the ball, but was brought down by the netminder’s momentum. The referee took a moment of thinking time before pointing to the spot.

Tash Allderidge took responsibility and placed her penalty kick to the keeper’s right, but too close to the keeper, who was able to get down and gather the spot kick in.

The majority of the play was taking place in the middle third, as both teams tried to assert themselves, but with neither able to truly do so. Chesterfield had a sight of goal just before the half-hour, but couldn’t find the target.

Pride Park finished the half strongly, starting with the opening goal after 31 minutes; Maja Znamirowska playing a diagonal ball for Annie Laight, who allowed it to run across her, and calmly waited for the right moment (which, from the touchline seemed to take an age!) before striking an excellent shot across the keeper and into the far side of the goal. It was a fine finish by a player in form – that’s three in three, and five in the last six games.

Above: Annie Laight, Price Park’s match winner, gets a ball in against Chesterfield. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

The goal brought added impetus to Pride Park, with Annie testing the keeper twice within a couple of minutes of the goal. As half-time was approaching we won a corner on our left. The ball was delivered into the box, and first Hannah Kwiatek and then Annie Laight had close range efforts blocked.

The second half started with Maja Znamirowska going close within a minute of the restart, and a minute later Jade Howell collected a Chesterfield shot. There were a number of good opportunities to extend our lead, with Eliot (twice), Beth Jones (twice), Otty Baker and Maja Znamirowska all bringing saves out of the Chesterfield keeper. Two of those, and particularly a save from Beth Jones, were exceptional.

Chances also fell to Beth Jones, Izzy Ely, Maja Znamirowska and Tash Allderidge, but their shots were off target.

There were approximately five minutes left to play when Jess Page went down with an ankle injury at one end of the pitch, play continuing and Beth Jones also injuring her ankle in a challenge at the other end of the pitch. Neither were able to continue, so there was a reshuffle required for the five minutes, with Tash Allderidge dropping into the back four. There was one opportunity for Chesterfield in time added on but the striker pulled her shot wide.

It could and should have been a more comfortable winning margin, and but for the Chesterfield ‚keeper it probably would have been. It’s encouraging to have kept another clean sheet – the defensive unit stuck to their task well again, and but for one occasion in the second half, defended very well – and there is something particularly satisfying about a 1-0 win.

Goals have been noticeably harder to come by since lockdown, a combination of players missing through injury, or returning to match fitness, and the results of games have – with one notable exception – been relatively close, with teamwork and tactical discipline being important attributes in those results. Annie Laight took her goal well yesterday, and with the number of chances created, there’s a sense that at some point the goals will start to flow again.

The season comes to its end with next week’s final fixtures – a double header against Belper Town. The first game will kick off at 10.30am, with the second game to follow at approximately midday – to fit in with the TV schedules for the Euros!

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