Below strength Pride inflict first defeat on Vics

Borrowash Victoria 1-3 Pride Park

by ‘Doug Outt’ (8/3/23)

Above: Impetus sponsored Ella Kew (in action earlier in the season), who hit a sensational goal from 30 yards in Pride Park’s win at Borrowash Victoria. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Pride Park, finding themselves without their regular shot-stopper or backup keeper clinched a superb win at Borrowash Victoria – condemning their hosts to a first league defeat in the tier seven Derbyshire Ladies League Division One in the process.

A lengthening injured list and other unavailable players required a reshuffle and careful husbanding of the available players, saw striker/midfielder Steph Eadon – although not ready to return from injury to play outfield – to play in goal. Hannah Kwiatek returned for her first game in three months in the unfamiliar right-back role. Beth Jones and Eliot Sayavong dropped back into defence, and Impetus-sponsored Ella Kew moved to centre midfield.

The return of Eadon – albeit in goal – and Bleu Lewis-Wilson for her first game (apart from as a stand-in ‘keeper earlier in the season) since an injury in pre-season gave the squad a much-needed boost.

Despite all that, Pride got off to the best possible start when, with barely a minute played, Maja Znamirowska and Tash Allderidge combined to win possession back halfway inside the Vics’ half and Allderidge fed a ball through for Summer Evans, who took the ball in her stride and slotted the ball past the keeper. 

Pride’s lead was very nearly doubled after seven minutes; Allderidge’s corner was headed onto the crossbar by Evans and her instinctive shot from the rebound was lifted over the bar. 

Vics inevitably responded and came back into the game but they were finding time and space difficult to come by as Pride’s players closed down and harried them, and although there were a few sights of goal, the shots were either off target or comfortably held by stand-in ‘keeper Steph Eadon. 

Either side of the 20-minute mark there were two more chances for Pride, as Znamirowska didn’t quite time her run to perfection and was caught marginally offside when through on goal. A minute later Hannah Kwiatek collected a clearance halfway inside the Vics’ half, Fran Critichley-Watson made a run wide to take a defender away and open up the space for Hannah to make an incisive pass into Znamirowska who turned and shot, but her effort just cleared the crossbar. 

Above: Summer Evans, who had a major influence on the match, seen here in action for Pride Park earlier in the season. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Just after the half-hour, Pride won a corner on the left, taken by Allderidge. The set-piece was initially cleared but Izzy Wilsoncroft was first to it and returned an excellent pass into the area to find Jones in space in front of goal but she steered her shot just the wrong side of the post with the keeper beaten. 

A second goal for Pride wasn’t long in coming, however, and it was a peach. Pride won back possession on the left, Eliot Sayavong played forward to Kew, who broke through a challenge and, looking up, spotted the Vics keeper a little off her line, before launching a howitzer of a shot from 30 yards, which had the goalkeeper back-pedalling and, although she got a hand to it, she couldn’t keep it out and the Impetus sponsored youngster was on the mark in style. 

Vics had their best chance as the half-time interval approached; a free kick from just inside the visitor’s half was played up to the edge of the area, three Pride defenders closed down the player on the ball – leaving a striker alone in the centre 12 yards out, but she was unable to steer her shot on target. Kew, injured in the build-up to the shot, came off for the final three of four minutes of time added on in the first half but was, fortunately, able to resume in the second half.

Pride will have been expecting to be put under pressure at the start of the second half and within a few minutes of the restart, Vics worked the ball across the pitch from left to right, close to the edge of the area, but a shot from outside the area was comfortably held by Steph Eadon.

However, it was Pride who came closest to scoring again – first after 53 minutes when Allderidge’s through ball to Evans seemed to have beaten the offside trap and she was through on goal, but the offside flag went up – but appeared very much to have been given against Znamirowska who was in an offside position but although not moving towards the ball may have hidden Evans from the linesman’s view.

Another opportunity came after 56 minutes; pressure on a defender by Evans and Sayavong forced a hurried pass which was pounced on by Allderidge in midfield and her first-time half-volleyed pass found Znamirowska inside the area, she turned the defender and her shot on the turn was just close enough to the keeper for the save.

Two minutes later, however, Pride did extend their lead – an Allderidge corner on the left eluded everyone in the centre, and was met at the far post with a downward header by Critchley-Watson for 3-0.

With nine minutes of normal time left, Jones headed on a corner in the area which rebounded to her, and her hooked shot was cleared off the line. Not for the first time, Allderidge collected the clearance and played it to Jones who rode two desperate challenges inside the area but her cutback was collected by the keeper. 

Above: Fran Critchley-Wilson, scorer of Pride Park’s third goal, seen here in action during a previous away match. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Apart from a ‘hit and hope’ from distance which didn’t trouble Eadon, Pride did well to restrict Vics’ sights of goals until the closing minutes of the game. With 86 minutes played Borrowash were awarded a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right which was taken direct – Eadon was in line with the shot all the way, but, as a result of her recent injury) was just unable to get the push-off needed to get the height to prevent the ball from dropping under the bar.

The goal gave Vics added impetus in the four minutes of remaining time plus six minutes of time added but although they upped the tempo and tried to create chances, Pride were in no mood to let the result slip now. The hosts won a corner that was cleared, and a shot on goal from distance was caught by Eadon – and despite some very challenging circumstances, Pride inflicted Vics’ first defeat of the season. 

Pride made rolling substitutions throughout the game to try and extend the playing time of those returning from injury or under the weather, and to try to keep players fresh – and it was pleasing to see Lewis-Wilson make a timely return from a lengthy lay-off to play half an hour in two spells without difficulty.

Steph Eadon merits particular praise for a composed game as a stand-in ‘keeper despite not being fully fit following a recent knee injury, but it was an assured, disciplined, and intelligent performance by the whole squad of thirteen players – particularly considering the circumstances coming into the game – which lifts the team into second in the league with half of their fixtures now completed.  

After the game, Pride Park Assistant Manager Jamie Robinson said “We knew this would be a good test and challenge against a respected Borrowash Victoria team. Coming into the game our focus was on how we wanted to play and the players rose to and embraced the challenge, and they deserve a lot of credit for executing the game plan and adapting to change during the game.

“The team ethos and the players understanding of the game showed itself physically and mentally in this performance. It was really pleasing to see them taking into a game what we’ve been working on in training and continuing the growth and development of the group. They have now set a standard that we want to maintain and build on for the games to come.”

Pride’s next game is at Mickleover next Sunday 12th March (kick-off 1.30pm).

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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