Jones strikes late winner for the Pride

Pride Park 2-1 Stanton Ilkeston

by ‘Doug Outt’ (9/2/23)

Above: Pride Park’s two-goal hero Beth Jones in action for Pride Park in an away game earlier this season. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

There were four changes for Pride Park from last week’s resounding win for the visit of Stanton Ilkeston on Sunday in the tier seven Derbyshire Ladies League Division One. 

Eadon, Sayavong, and Baker were unavailable, with Evans added to the injured list, but Holmes, Fran Critchley-Watson, and Maja Znamirowska were added to the team. 

The game started with an early let-off for Pride Park when a shot (or cross) from wide on Stanton’s right-wing caught goalkeeper Howell unawares and came back off the post.

The game settled into a midfield battle with neither side able to really gain control. There were a few promising attacks that didn’t lead to anything, as the final touch was lacking, and few chances for both teams, with Pride arguably having the slightly better opportunities including a couple from closer in, whilst Stanton’s efforts were mainly from distance.

It looked like the deadlock might be broken by Pride Park as the first half drew to a close when Beth Jones made a strong run down the left flank and cut in, pulling the ball back to Maja Znamirowska on the edge of the six-yard box, but she was unable to make a good connection, the defender’s attempted clearance was then blocked by Jones, but the loose ball was gathered by the Stanton goalkeeper. Shortly after that, the first half came to a close, remaining goalless.

Without substitutes, the options for Pride Park to make changes were limited, but there was a positional switch at half-time with Ella Kew switching to the centre,  bringing extra height and physical presence in her more favoured central midfield role, with Fran Critchley-Watson’s guile and work rate redeployed to the flank. 

The second half started with a little more promise from Pride Park’s point of view. Jones and Kew both worked the Stanton keeper in the opening minutes before Znamirowska was put through on goal and clear of the chasing defenders, but hit her shot at the visitors’ custodian. 

The deadlock was finally broken after 56 minutes. A Stanton player attempted to control a loose bouncing ball in midfield under pressure from Kew, who read the situation brilliantly to get a foot in first and play the ball through for Jones. There was still a lot to do as two defenders converged on her, but she withstood their challenges and ran through to steer the ball wide of the advancing keeper to put The Pride ahead.

A few minutes later it was almost two, as Kew was again in very quickly to regain possession from a Stanton goalkick, playing Jones in on goal – her shot beat the keeper but came back off the foot of the post and was scrambled away for a corner.

Above: Ella Kew (right) – a superb performance from the youngster in her first season in senior football. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Just as it seemed Pride Park might be getting hold of the game, Stanton equalised just after the hour. From a goal kick the ball was played out to a defender who sidestepped the press with ease and played a diagonal ball beyond Pride Park’s defence for the striker, who cut inside and hit her shot over Howell to level the scores.

The momentum was with Stanton now and for a few minutes they had good possession in Pride Park’s half, creating opportunities for a couple of shots on goal. The hosts countered on the break, Millie Holmes playing Jones in but for the second time her shot hit the base of the post. 

Pride Park were reduced to ten players as Izzy Wilsoncroft left the pitch with a muscular problem. During that time there was another let-off for the home team when a pullback from the right was hit wide from six yards out by the Stanton striker.

However, Pride Park’s remaining ten stepped up a gear as the game entered the final quarter hour; Znamirowska shot inches wide after a good combination between Kew and Jones, and Jones also saw an attempt go wide. 

For the final ten minutes, with Pride Park restored to eleven players, the teams were locked in a midfield struggle although, with eight minutes to play, Tash Allderidge worked enough space for a shot from outside the area that just cleared the Stanton crossbar. 

It was looking like the points would be shared when, with two minutes remaining, a pass forward by Stanton was overhit and ran through to Howell in the Pride goal.  Her kick upfield was controlled on the bounce by Kew and she turned and hit a pass over the Stanton defence and, as they ran towards their own goal and the deepest defender attempted to deal with the tricky bouncing ball, Jones nipped in, took a touch and fired low past the keeper. 

Pride Park saw out the final couple of minutes for a very hard-fought win in an evenly contested game that could have gone either way. Stanton will be disappointed to come away without any points, but as their draw the previous week showed, they are an improving side. 

Jones never stopped believing she’d score and kept on plugging away, to eventually get her reward, but with only eleven players available, every one of them had to put in a shift to grind out the result.

Ella Kew, in her first season at open age, had an excellent second half in the centre of midfield, showing excellent anticipation and strength to regain possession and release the ball at key moments, including providing the assists for both of Jones’ goals.

The Pride’s run of home fixtures continues next week with a Derbyshire Ladies League Division One game at Moorways when Castle Donington are the visitors (kick-off 1.30pm).

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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