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Belles

Sporting Khalsa 3 Belles 3

13 December 2020

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Two goals from Nadia Khan earned the battling Belles a point in tough conditions at Sporting Khalsa, as they twice fought back from a goal down.

The Belles started brightly in their first game since October, with Izzy Trevillion and Phoebe Sneddon getting shots away in the opening few minutes.

A good break after eight minutes saw Khan get a low cross in, though it was cut out by Stacey Garnham in the home goal, before the visitors took the lead after 10 minutes.

A late tackle on Khan earned the Belles a free-kick out on the right a good 30 yards from goal. Kirsty Smith stepped up to strike an effort which saw the ball dip under the crossbar and beyond the fingertips of Garnham.

Khalsa’s first shot on goal came after 18 minutes, with captain Angie Morley firing over, and a minute later they drew level.

Two attempted clearances from the Belles were closed down by the hosts, with Lauren Walker left with the easiest of tap-ins into an empty net after throwing herself in the way of Fiona Berry’s clearance.

Khalsa grew in confidence, with Walker trying a shot from distance that was easily held by Ellie Sharpe.

They were temporarily reduced to 10 players when Laura McQuilkin was sin binned for dissent towards the referee Charlotte Sparling after conceding a foul for handball then preventing Sophie Scargill from taking the free-kick quickly.

But that did little to half their momentum, as two minutes later they went ahead. Walker was again the goalscorer, blasting an effort in at the near post after a cut-back from Chloe Handy.

Belles boss Andy Butler made a change at the break, sending on forward Sophie Brown to replace goalscorer Smith. The reshuffle also saw Trevillion, who had been playing in a move advanced role, drop to right-back and Jess Andrew move into her more familiar midfield spot.

Garnham had to be alert to tip away a Hannah McWilliams header in the opening exchanges of the second period, but with heavy rain and wind setting in both sides had to battle to cope with the conditions.

Sharpe lived up to her name by keeping out a long-range Morley effort, before the Belles drew level after 55 minutes.

The move started with Brown intercepting a loose clearance before feeding McWilliams, whose pass to Khan cut out the entire home defence. Khan’s first touch took the ball past the onrushing Garnham and she finished cooly into the far corner.

Chloe Dean came on to replace Sneddon as Butler looked to see if the game could be won, but moments later Walkerhad completed her hat-trick after capitalising on the Belles’ failure to clear a ball into the area.

Lily Harrison came off the bench for the closing stages in another attacking change by Butler, with the youngster quickly forcing Garnham into a low save.

It was beginning to look like the Belles would suffer only their second league defeat of the season, but a long ball from Dean looking for Brown was deflected fortuitously into the path of Khan whose low finish past Garnham took her tally for the season to eight.


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