Ladies Manager Carey Huegett tells the story of HTAFC Ladies opening day victory over Farsley Celtic...We had waited nine and a half weeks for our opening league game of the season, and it did not disappoint.
The sun was shining, we had a bumper crowd; Harry Gator and our mascots from our player development centre as well as Scotton Scorchers and Pannal Ash walked us out on to the pitch and the stage was set.
This was the start of something new. It didn't matter who our opposition was, we had one focus and that was to cross that white line after 90 minutes with the three points and no regrets.
From the first whistle we were raring to go, we took the game to Farsley hitting the woodwork three times in the opening 10 minutes.
The first 25 minutes saw us peg Farsley Celtic back deep into their own half, yet we couldn't break the deadlock. That was until Nat Eustance looped the ball high up into the box and Beth Jennings bravely put her body on the line and headed the ball into the back of the net.
Unfortunately, Beth suffered a nasty injury to her eye socket after the goalkeeper had attempted to punch the ball but instead caught Beth flush in the face.
The lead but it was short-lived, whilst Beth was receiving treatment, Farsley got an instant reply and equalised straight from kick off – completely against the run of play.
After more Town pressure and missed opportunities, finally we got the second goal. Shannon Beale cushioned the ball down in the box for Emma Elliot to slot the ball home and make it 2-1 at half time.
The second half was a pure fight. We wanted to play football, Farsley knew they couldn't match us from minute one so they turned everything into a scrap, booting the ball long and high up into the air in the hope to win the aeriel duel and get closer to the goal. It made the game scrappy and unpleasant, but they got joy from it at times and came into the game in the second half.
One thing I knew about my players was that they would never give up, they would stick together until the end, and they would sacrifice themselves for those important three points. I write this with pride when I say, no matter how many knocks or injuries we sustained, it didn't faze us – we got up and went again. The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory, right?
The Farsley keeper was peppered with shot after shot in the second half and pulled off some great saves, particularly from a long range Beth Jennings shot that was destined for the top corner but tipped round the post for a corner. From that corner, Cassidy Lane delivered to the front post where Shannon Beal flicked the ball on and the spin caught the goalkeeper out as she parried it into the goal to make it 3-1 Town.
A quarter of an hour from time Farsley had a couple of dangerous long balls but thankfully stand in goal keeper Becky Wilson was on hand to save the day.
After Wilson had clearded, Jess Heald, the Farsley attacker, received the throw-in and hit a glorious looping effort into the top corner to make it 3-2.
Town felt completely hard done by, however it made us more determined .We stood up to the pressure in the final 5 minutes and saw the game out.
Battered, bruised but completely proud of everyone, the girls could have crumbled but they knew that all their hard work in pre-season was all for this.
This was the first step on a long and exciting journey. We will experience different tests throughout the season, our game plan may change, our quality will improve but our game will always be built on togetherness, passion, desire, resilience and hard work and that's why I have every confidence in these players.
Town: Wilson, Smith, Whitton (c), Beal, Eustance, Jennings, Elliott, Asquith-Brown, Adams, McDonald, Lane
Subs: Mattison, Crispin, Flynn, Sornat
Goals: Jennings 27, Elliott 36, OG 58