Fightback Seals Second Spot For Pride

Mickleover Sports 3-4 Pride Park

By Hannah Roberts (18/5/22)

Above: Pride Park’s Maja Znamirowska (blue shirt) scores her hundredth goal for the club. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

A second-half hat-trick from Maja Znamirowska fuelled an impressive comeback from Pride Park away at Mickleover on Sunday. A 4-3 win on the day was enough to seal second place in the tier seven Derbyshire Ladies League Division One with one match to play.

With the previous encounters between these two teams this season ending in an 8-0 win for Pride Park and a 6-4 victory for Mickleover, it was clear that any outcome was possible. Despite the high-scoring history, the first half was one of few chances. Pride looked a bit disjointed to start and struggled to get passing movements going, and when they did, Mickleover’s sweeping centre-back was always on hand to tidy up any promising attacks.

The opening goal of the game was an avoidable one as Pride failed to deal with the second phase of a corner, and a weak but accurate shot nestled into the bottom corner from Mickleover’s number three from the edge of the box. Park looked to respond quickly and their best chance of the first half came from a long-range effort that was well hit by Eliot Sayavong but ultimately flew over the crossbar.

With the first half looking like it was going to peter out without further action, Mickleover once again took advantage of some sloppy play on the edge of the area and their striker hit a thunderous strike up and over Jade Howell to double the home side’s lead.

Above: Pride Park goalkeeper Jade Howell makes a save on Sunday against Mickleover Sports. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Pride Park hadn’t looked themselves in the first half, but despite the two-goal deficit, it was clear that the game was there for the taking if they raised their level – the goals conceded were the only real chances Mickleover manufactured.

The visitors came out of the blocks at full speed in the second 45, getting first to every ball and pushing forward with purpose. They quickly earned a free kick as Summer Evans was taken down just outside the 18, but the free-kick from Tash Allderidge was comfortably held by the keeper.

This was just the start of the pressure, however, as Pride kept Mickleover penned into their half for most of the opening 15 minutes of the second half, and any counters from the home side were swiftly dealt with by the backline. On the one occasion Mickleover did breakthrough, they were thwarted by some brave goalkeeping from Jade Howell, snuffing out the chance at the striker’s feet.

The Pride Park pressure continued, and it wasn’t long until they a goal back. A shot from distance from Beth Thompson bounced awkwardly on the hard ground and up onto the crossbar, and a melee ensued until Maja Znamirowska popped up in the right place at the right time, as she has so many times, to fire home from close range. This goal was Znamirowska 100th for the club in just 82 appearances since her debut in 2016 (full a feature article on Maja Znamirowska, click here: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/02/10/maja-znamirowska-aiming-to-be-pride-parks-first-to-a-hundred/)

The momentum was fully swinging Pride Park’s way now, and the equaliser came ten minutes later, as an inch-perfect cross from Tash Allderidge on the right was headed home by Znamirowska from about a yard out at the far post. Five minutes later the comeback was complete, as a long free-kick from Annie Laight on the halfway line was headed past the Mickleover keeper by one of her own players from inside the box.

Above: Summer Evans in possession for Pride Park at Mickleover Sports on Sunday. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Pride Park won the ball back almost immediately after the kickoff, and an inch-perfect through ball from Summer Evans set Maja Znamirowska away with just the keeper to beat, and she rounded off her hat-trick with a tidy finish into the far corner. 

Mickleover hadn’t looked like scoring from open play in the second half, so it took a 30-yard free-kick goal to add some nerves to the final minutes, but Pride Park saw out the game without further event for the 4-3 victory.

Three points were fully deserved for an excellent second-half display, and coupled with Borrowash Victoria’s 1-1 draw at Draycott, saw Pride Park seal second place in the league, a feat last achieved by the team in the 2017/18 season. It is a great achievement in what has been an incredibly competitive league this season.

A special mention must go to stand-in referee Pearse Lavery after the official didn’t turn up and we were left without a referee at kick-off – and without him, the game could not have taken place.

Pride Park have one further game to play, when they travel to Borrowash Victoria on May 29th.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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