This top of the table clash between two local rivals Harrogate Town Ladies and Harrogate Railway Ladies had top billing at the CNG on a day when the Town 3G surface came into its own, as this fixture was the only one to take place in the North East Region Southern Division.
Town came flying out of the blocks and were 1-0 up within the first couple of minutes. A great ball from Hesselden found Rowland in space on the left wing, and her accurate cross into the box was finished with aplomb by the onrushing Pennock to make it 1-0. With hardly any time to draw breath, Railway completed some neat midfield interplay with a through ball to Nicola Hadley, who finished clinically with a lob over the advancing Kelly Jackson in the Town goal. 1-1.
Both teams have been scoring goals for fun in recent games, but nobody could anticipate what was about to happen as Pennock, back to full fitness, took the game by the scruff of the neck treating the big derby crowd of over 200 supporters to an exhibition of mazy dribbling, great footwork and outstanding finishing. Within 5 minutes of Railway’s equaliser Pennock had restored Town’s advantage, completing a driving run from midfield with a superb finish in the bottom corner to make it 2-1.
Any late arrivals had already missed out on some great entertainment and three outstanding goals!
Town now had their best period in the game, with the midfield engine room of Hesselden, Adams and Hulme continuing to create openings for the Town strike-force, and it wasn’t long before top scorer Tinson came to the party. A dizzying run from Hulme and a pinpoint accurate cross saw Tinson rise like a salmon at the far post to head into the top corner. Meanwhile at the other end Town’s defence of Jackson, Varley , Whitton, Foyer and Davies restricted Railway to the occasional long range effort.
Town continued to push players forward and closed down Railway whenever they had possession. Cosequently they were rewarded before half time with three more goals from Tinson, Pennock and a tap in from winger Hulme, to make it 6-1 at the break.
With the snow falling, the pace of the game slowed in the second half. Harrogate Railway continued to work hard for each other, and tighter marking restricted the freedom that Town’s wingers had experienced in the first half. However Hulme and Rowland, fed by Adams and Hesselden in midfield, continued to pose a threat, and crosses from the two led to further goals from the irresistible duo of Pennock and Tinson as the game finished 8-1 to Harrogate Town.
A number of Town’s Development team in the shape of Young, Smith, Ryan and Stephenson along with Salter all had the opportunity to make a contribution and enjoyed being part of an historic victory.
So at the half way point of the season, this win enabled Town to leapfrog Railway into pole position at the top of the North East Regional Women’s League Southern Section. After losing earlier in the season to Altofts, Town have since struck a rich vein of form and have won every league game since. The players and management will be hoping that this type of form continues after the Christmas break.
Jade Pennock was voted the player of the match by her team mates and it was thoroughly deserved due to her four great goals and penetrating runs from midfield.
Overall, the game was a superb advert for Ladies football and great to see two Harrogate teams doing so well at the top of the league. Over 200 supporters were also treated to some great pre-match entertainment by Scotton Scorchers U12’s and Beckwithshaw U12’s who, played each other before the match and were team mascots for the day.
The future for girl’s football in Harrogate is undoubtedly bright.