Newly appointed manager Chloe Hickson had to contend with losing her goalkeeper to illness for their opening game. She handed the responsibility to Hannah McHugh who stepped up and gave a fantastic account of herself.
Our newly formed U17 girls made history on Saturday in their season opener against Guiseley Girls U17's in the West Riding Girls League.
The game got underway and as expected, it was a scrappy affair to start with as both teams struggled to find the composure in the middle of the park. Town continued to battle and started to get some joy with Bella Devereux breaking up play in the midfield and Liv Johnson releasing Lydia Corner and Eva Jenkins out wide. Holly Pounder and Robyn McKendrick looked solid at the back and nullified any Guiseley attacks. Liv Delaney put Jenkins through on goal, only to be denied by a great double save from the goalkeeper. The resulting corner led to the opening goal and the first goal in the club's history for the U17 girls. Johnson delivered an inch perfect cross into the path of Robyn McKendrick where she headed home on the half hour mark.
Five minutes after Town went 1-0 up, Guiseley found an equaliser from an unstoppable shot that flew into the top corner. Town continued to work hard and began to move the ball around and put the Guiseley back line under pressure. Devereux, Niamh Tyssen and Jenkins saw their shots saved by the Guiseley goalkeeper who managed to keep the score level. However, on the stroke of half-time and against the run of play, Town failed to stop the cross which looped over everyone including the Town goalkeeper to put Guiseley 2-1 up at half-time.
The girls regrouped, reflected on their first half performance and made a few tactical changes. Town were galvanised – they weren't going to go down without a fight. Town took hold of the game and put on a first class performance – Guiseley couldn't get out of their half. Maddy Dennis and Devereux started to dictate play and supplied Lucy Taylor, Maddie Ashby and Corner out wide where they became relentless with the number of quality crosses in the box. Town were continuously denied by the woodwork and the outstanding Guiseley keeper. It looked like it wasn't going to be Town's day.
Tyssen then stepped up and took the game by storm. Niamh became a driving force in everything positive that Town produced. A leader was born. Niamh retrieved the ball, took on two defenders and released a perfect through ball to captain Jenkins who kept her cool, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home to make it 2-2.
Town continued to pepper the Guiseley goal, with a long range McKendrick shot hitting the post, followed by Ashby and Tyssen's shots also hitting the woodwork. Pounder headed over the bar from a corner and a Dennis' effort trickled wide of the goal. It didn't look like Town could find a third goal to take the lead. That was until joint player of the match Tyssen picked up the ball and weaved in and out of the defenders and smashed the ball into the top right hand corner in the 85th minute. It was nothing less than Town deserved.
A rare Guiseley attack was dealt with by Lily Pritchard and the ball was sent back down into Guiseley's half. The girls did everything to see the game out. However, despite the ref having his whistle to his mouth, the game continued – he shouted one more minute to play in the 93rd minute. Despite this, in the 8th minute of injury time a Guiseley player struck a long-range effort that managed to skid off the surface and into the back of the net. Guiseley had found an equaliser. A bitterly unfair and disappointing end to a fantastic spectacle. The girls, parents and coaching staff felt hard done by – Town fully deserved the victory but on this occasion it wasn't to be.
The launch of Harrogate Town U17 Girls had been a huge success. Every player wore the Town shirt with pride. They gave absolutely everything for the cause – their work rate, attitude, togetherness and performance could not be faulted. Despite feeling hard done by, it felt like a special day and the start of a new and exciting era for girls and ladies football at Harrogate Town.
Up next is Ilkley Town next Saturday – 10am kick off at Rossett Sports Centre.
Hannah Mc Hugh, Natasha Abbott, Robyn McKendrick, Holly Pounder, Liv Delaney, Bella Devereux, Maddy Dennis, Liv Johnson, Eva Jenkins (c), Niamh Tyssen, Lydia Corner, Lucy Taylor, Maddie Ashby, Lily Pritchard
Players of the match: Bella Devereux and Niamh Tyssen
Harrogate Town Ladies Reserves enjoyed an emphatic win against an experienced Silsden Ladies team in their first game of the season.
Town dominated from minute one, creating lots of chances early on but a fine display from the Silsden goalkeeper kept the score level. That was until Polly Asquith Brown was released down the left channel, she weaved in and out of two defenders and unleashed a powerful strike into the bottom corner to give Town the lead.
Holly Mattison linked up with Cass Lane and Polly Asquith Brown who delivered a pinpoint cross to find Anouska Dresser who calmly slotted the ball into the far right hand corner to double Town's advantage.
Town were in control of possession and continued to string the passes together. Some great combination play between Ava Branton, Dresser and Holly Sornat enabled captain Georgia Southby to find space in the box where she rifled the ball into the roof of the net to give Town a three goal lead. Southby celebrated her first goal of the season like it was the match winner – clearly she was excited to get off the mark in her first league game for the club.
After half time, Jess Flynn became influential in breaking up play and setting up the counter attack. Jess even found herself through on goal where she smashed the ball against the crossbar after a one on one with the goalkeeper. Town continued to exploit the gaps in the Silsden defence with Chloe Peters and Natasha Williams hitting the post but the goalkeeper continued to pull off save after save to deny the Town girls.
On the hour mark, Alicia Hall followed up an Dresser shot that megged the goalkeeper and was heading to the goal line to make it 4-0. Player of the match Asquith-Brown grabbed her second of the game with a great finish past the keeper to make it 5-0. She then set up Flynn and this time Jess made no mistake when she drilled the ball into the back of the net to seal the victory.
A brilliant performance from everyone involved and a great 6-0 win to start the season.
Next weekend the reserves have a home derby against an experienced Harrogate Railway side. The game kicks off at 2pm at Rossett Sports Centre on Sunday 26th September – it would be great to see some Town fans in attendance to cheer on the girls!
Player of the match: Polly Asquith Brown