Pride at doubleheader success

Pride Park v AFC Normanton

To complete their season in the tier seven Derbyshire Ladies League Division One, Impetus partner club Pride Park played two back-to-back matches of 60 minutes against AFC Normanton. ‘Doug Outt’ reports.

Above: Pride Park’s first game with AFC Normanton was their designated #HerGameToo fixture, and the squad proudly pose with the banner. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Match one:

Pride Park 8-0 AFC Normanton

Pride brought the season to a close with a double-header against AFC Normanton at Moorways on Sunday, the first of which was officially the ‘home’ fixture and the club’s designated #HerGameToo fixture to mark the club’s partnership with the Her Game Too campaign. 

Double headers can be very difficult games to negotiate, both physically and mentally and there was the additional pressure of knowing that two wins would secure at least third place in the league.

In the first of the two games of 60 minutes, Pride got off to a good start scoring three goals in the first 13 minutes. The opener came from a Tash Allderidge corner which was met in the centre of goal by Summer Evans and her header was glanced over the line by Beth Jones with five minutes played. 

Five minutes later Steph Eadon did well to bring another Allderidge corner down under control in the box, evade a challenge, and slot home from close range. The third goal of the opening salvo came three minutes later when Millie Holmes swept a ball down the line for Jones, who ran on before squaring across goal for Evans to finish.

Although Jones had a couple of further chances which were off target, and Allderidge saw a free kick deflected behind off the defensive wall – and another shot well saved – Pride were unable to add to their lead despite having the better of territory and possession before the end of the first half of 30 minutes. 

Pride were slow to get started in the second half, with just a Maja Znamirowska shot wide of the post in the first ten minutes after the restart but, almost as if someone had flicked a switch, they seemed to suddenly click, with five shots and five goals within 12 minutes.

Above: Summer Evans, who scored twice for Pride Park in the first match, and would add a hat-trick in the second encounter. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Evans got things started on 41 minutes when Jade Howell’s kick upfield was glanced on by a defender, controlled by Evans and slipped past the keeper. Znamirowska made it five three minutes later, stooping to head home Evans’ pin-point cross.

Arguably the pick of the bunch, after 46 minutes, came from Steph Eadon’s 40-yard diagonal cross-field pass which was brought down inside the area superbly on her chest by Evans, before she squared for Jones to make it 6-0. Two minutes later, Eadon nipped in ahead of the defender on the edge of the area to reach Izzy Wilsoncroft’s long throw and hit a dipping shot beyond the ‘keeper.

Completing the scoring after 53 minutes, Evans’s cutback after a run down the right was finished by Jones. 

In the midst of that scoring spree, Normanton had a chance to pull one back, but the shot from a central position in front of goal was saved by Howell. It was Normanton’s only shot on target and although they had two further efforts in the closing minutes, both were off target – ensuring Pride kept a fifth clean sheet of the season in the league and sixth overall for the season.

Having completed the first objective the players had twenty minutes to rest before the second game. Having shown they had the physical and technical ability, the challenge would be to show the mental strength to be able to maintain the standard and repeat the performance in the second game. 

Scorers: Jones (3), Evans (2), Eadon (2), Znamirowska.

Match two:

AFC Normanton 1-10 Pride Park
Above: Beth Jones, scorer of five goals in the second match against AFC Normanton to take her tally on the afternoon to eight. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

The second instalment of this double-header and the final game of the season, also at Pride Park’s Moorways home, but officially a ‘home game’ for AFC Normanton, was initially a slow burner as far as Pride were concerned.

Despite taking the lead after 12 minutes when Impetus sponsored Ella Kew’s perfectly weighted pass put Steph Eadon in the clear on the left, before she cut in and finished at the near post – the lead only lasted two minutes before Normanton equalised.

A minute later, Eadon collected a loose ball in midfield and put Beth Jones through on goal and she rounded the ‘keeper to restore Pride’s lead. Despite this, Pride were not playing at the level or at the tempo they had shown in the first game and were not as effective either with or without the ball.

This gave Normanton the opportunity to get forward more and shortly after going behind again they worked their way in behind Pride’s defence a little too easily, but the shot was saved by Jade Howell. There were a couple more attempts on goal for Pride but without reaching the performance level of the first game it remained 2-1 and delicately poised at half-time. 

Pride were a very different proposition from the start of the second half, Summer Evans making it 3-1 within two minutes of the restart. There was then a brief respite of ten minutes for Normanton, during which there was a lengthy stoppage for an injury to Pride’s Annie Laight who was unable to continue, after jarring her knee, before Pride unleashed a veritable blitz, scoring five goals in a 12-minute spell. 

Beth Jones got things rolling on 42 minutes. Three minutes later Steph Eadon’s cross was met with a firm header by Tash Allderidge, turned aside by a fine save by the goalkeeper – Hannah Kwiatek anticipated well and was on hand to finish from close range.

Above: Tash Allderidge powers a header towards goal for Pride Park during the second match. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

A minute later Ella Kew was unfortunate to see her header come back off the crossbar from Tash Allderidge’s corner, but it was 6-1 after 48 minutes when Beth Jones came out on top from a three-way tussle for the ball with a defender and the goalkeeper, to slot home. 

It was Beth Jones again four minutes later, this time latching on to Jade Howell’s kick, running behind the defence and shooting across the ‘keeper to finish inside the far post. Steph Eadon advanced down the right before turning and playing the back to Izzy Wilsoncroft – her ball into the box was headed home by Summer Evans to make it 8-1 after 54 minutes. 

Summer Evans added a ninth two minutes later, collecting Sophie Ayton’s through ball and rounding the keeper to score and complete her hat-trick. In the fifth minute of time added on, Beth Jones scored her fifth of the game and her 47th of a remarkable season when she was played in by Millie Holmes to round off the win for Pride.

After a slightly sluggish first half, Pride burst into life in the second period and – as in a similar spell in the first game – were absolutely clinical in front of goal. 

Going into the doubleheader, Pride knew that two wins would secure third place in the League. Having won the first game so convincingly, there was an additional mental challenge going into the second game and, although it took a little while to get going, the test was passed with flying colours, demonstrating the growing maturity of the team, as two emphatic wins ensure at least a third-place finish for Pride who finish the season with a run of five consecutive wins.

Scorers: Jones (5), Evans (3), Eadon, Kwiatek.

Pride Park FC – Impetus partner club 2022/23. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

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