Pride Park 1-1 Sandiacre Town
Above: Pride Park goalscorer Hannah Kwiatek in action. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.
By Boot Room (15/2/22).
For the second successive League game, Pride Park hosted Sandiacre Town at the newly named Moorways Sports Village, welcoming back several players that missed the previous encounter. There was, however, another casualty to add to the list of those missing with Hannah Roberts sitting this one out, joining Summer Evans, and long-term absentees Jess Page and Janine Wardman.
Although the pitch was in very good condition, considering the recent rainfall, it was inevitably very soft underfoot which would be energy-sapping so, because of that and the cold wind, the hosts made full use of their rolling subs with regular changes to ensure the players stayed as fresh as possible, and didn’t hang around too long on the touchline. There was a risk this might prove disruptive, but the squad is flexible and adaptable and it was preferable to risking players getting cold and incurring muscle injuries.
Pride Park were playing into the wind in the first half and made a good start, almost taking the lead within the first minute, as Lottie Bryan fed the ball to Hannah Kwiatek in an advanced position on the left. Kwiatek hit a square pass across goal behind the defence and along the six-yard line, which was turned onto the post by a defender with the goalkeeper stranded. The ball rebounded across goal and just needed turning in at the far post – but a defender reacted quickest and was able to put the ball out for a corner.
After that initial chance, both teams had a few glimpses of goal – for Park, there was some good combination play down the right involving Annie Laight, and the pace of Lottie Bryan and Maja Znamirowska was a constant threat, but for the most part, both defences held out well. Just after the half-hour the ball broke to Hannah Kwiatek about eight yards out from goal and on the angle, but her instinctive left-foot shot was hit straight at the keeper.
Three minutes later Park were awarded a free kick on the left, about midway in the Sandiacre half. Tash Allderidge took the kick and lofted the ball into the area just outside the far post. Her kick eluded the defensive line and was met by Hannah Kwiatek, drifting in behind the defence to head home from around five yards out.
It was a collector’s item – The Pride don’t score many headers and it was Kwiatek’s first goal in the League this season.
At half-time, it remained 1-0 to Pride Park. The wind seemed to drop, at least initially, at the start of the second half. As the game wore on Park were finding it hard to get and hold on to the ball, making it difficult to build up periods of possession to give the defence a breather, and we were opting to hit the ‘out’ ball for strikers to chase a little more than we’d have liked.
Whilst this was at times effective and did lead to some decent opportunities, Lottie Bryan, Maja Znamirowska, and Annie Laight with shots wide or at the keeper, it also resulted in possession being given away when the ball was overhit or the pass forward lacked accuracy. At the same time, Sandiacre started to have more possession and were building promising attacks, but Pride Park’s back five defended well throughout, showing resilience and providing very little in the way of clear cut chances – Jade Howell in the Pride Park goal had a few shots to deal with but those on target were within reach and her positioning and handling in difficult conditions was really good.
It was doubly disappointing, therefore for the home side to concede an equalizer from a corner in the final minute. Having defended corners well throughout the game, Park failed to cut out a waist height corner from the left – it was missed by the front defender, and an attempted clearance was sliced in by the second defender for an own goal. It was one of those that can happen, but frustrating for everyone, after being so close to a clean sheet and three points.
It shouldn’t overshadow what had been a battling performance in difficult conditions, however. It was also good to end a run of four defeats for The Pride and, on balance, a draw was probably a fair result.
Next week Pride Park travel to Mickleover (ko 1.30pm).