On paper, a resounding defeat, but many positives to be taken from the fixture against a Durham Cestria squad which included seasoned internationals in their line-up.Following an emphatic 6-0 win against Leeds United Development last weekend, Martin Powell took sole charge over the proceedings at The CNG Stadium as Town welcomed last season's rivals Durham Cestria for their second game of pre-season.
First team coach Powell named a squad of fifteen for this fixture with a number of players returning from recent breaks.
Harrogate knew they'd be up for a tough test given that Durham gained promotion from the North East Regional League last season with a 100% league win record. Town fell to a 2-0 defeat the last time the teams met at The CNG Stadium.
The game opened up at breakneck speed, Town starting off well with Sophie Tinson letting fly in the first five minutes, but unfortunately drawing her shot wide and failing to work the Durham keeper.
At the other end, Durham were also creating chances, Kelly Jackson-Powell making several good saves to keep the game at 0-0.
Durham's pressure eventually paid off after 20 minutes when a slick five person move ended with a well taken finish.
Town responded with pressure at the Durham end as Grace Foyer lofted in a perfectly weighted ball into the box for Tinson who swivelled, turned and managed to get a shot away at the visiting keeper who tipped it round the post for a corner.
With 40 minutes gone, a key moment in the game as Foyer, Town's lynchpin in midfield, challenged for a header, fell awkwardly twisting her knee and required lengthy treatment before leaving the field of play with what looked like a serious knee injury.
Durham Cestria continued to work the ball well and continued to pressure the Town defence in the first half, but the home side continued to defend well and went in at half time at 1-0, thankful for Marsden's late goal line clearance and a further top class save from Jackson Powell.
Half time gave everyone the chance to draw breath and the second half saw the introduction of Rosie Gill up front, the return of Gracie Adams at left midfield and Megan Perez at right midfield.
The second half continued much like the first half with Town defending gamely against a well drilled Durham team – Town conceded a second goal after 58 minutes at which point it would have been easy for heads to go down, but to Town's credit, they keep battling away with Bancroft and Davies working their socks off in midfield.
It was only in the last 15 minutes of the game, when Durham made their superior fitness tell, that they were able to dominate, scoring four goals without reply.
So, in summary, a disappointing result, but a great learning experience for the Town Ladies who gave everything over the 90 minutes.
Next week the Ladies travel to Sheffield Wednesday for their next pre-season fixture.
Starting XI: Jackson-Powell, Marsden, Whitton, Macdonald, James, Wilson, Davies, Foyer, Smith, Kendell, Tinson
Subs: Gill, Adams, Bancroft, Perez
By Isaac Martin