Belles secured an impressive 3-1 victory when they hosted Brighouse Town Ladies in their second pre-season friendly of 2020.
Belles weathered some early pressure before Hannah McWilliams’ strike put the home side 1-0 up on 25 minutes. Ellie Sharpe was called into action to prevent the visitors equalising from the penalty spot and Kirsty Smith’s curled effort just on half-time gave the Belles a comfortable lead at the break.
Lilly Harrison put the game to bed with about two minutes remaining when she was put through on goal and chipped the visiting goalkeeper from the edge of the box. Brighouse Town grabbed a consolation goal with the last kick of the game.
The visitors were going to provide tough opposition after a very impressive campaign in 2019/20 and the side from West Yorkshire started brightly registering their first shot on target on the fourth minute but the chipped effort didn’t trouble Sharpe.
Their next chance came just three minutes later - the visiting winger skied it over the bar under pressure from Fiona Berry. Chances kept falling for the visitors with the centre forward missing two from close range and seeing one cleared off the line.
Jasmine Saxton had Belles first real chance of the match when a ball slid through by Jess Andrew. Saxton was always stretching and it was blocked well by the defender.
Just minutes after this attack, Belles were flying forward in numbers again and McWilliams finished coolly with a strike across the keeper which nestled just inside the post.
Brighouse continued to pile on the pressure – putting the ball wide and hitting the woodwork before one of the players was fouled in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Sharpe saved the initial strike and the follow up effort to keep the score at 1-0.
The visitors forced two more good saves from Sharpe. One from distance which was chipped up into her hands and the second at her near post. The second was made easier by good defending from Izzy Trevillion.
Belles extended their lead right on half-time with a fantastic effort by Kirsty Smith. The ball fell to the skipper about 20 yards out and she coolly sent it curling into the top corner.
The second half followed much the same pattern with Belles defending really well to keep Brighouse Town at bay. The visitors fired shots over the bar thanks to good pressure from the Belles defence and Smith cleared one off the line. The resulting corner was headed directly at Sharpe.
On 60 minutes, the whole team was changed to give minutes to fresh runners and Lilly Harrison was played in almost immediately. She rode the first two challenges but was ultimately crowded out before getting a shot away.
The game started to slow in pace with 25 minutes remaining with less chances at both ends due to a good battle in midfield.
The visitors hit the woodwork for the third time when they fashioned a chance fifteen minutes from time and it was around that time that the heavens opened creating difficult playing conditions for both sides.
As the match entered its final soggy minute, Harrison was played through for a second time. This time, the 16-year-old took a touch, spotted the keeper off her line and chipped the ball over her and into the net to seal the game.
Brighouse got the goal they probably deserved with the final kick of the match to make the final score 3-1.