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REPORT | Kiveton Park FC Ladies 0 Belles 4

23 January 2023


REPORT | Kiveton Park FC Ladies 0 Belles 4

23 January 2023

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A first senior goal for Mollie Barlow, a strike from Lily Wishart and a Shannon Durkin brace saw Belles through to the semi-finals of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Cup for the first time in thirteen years.

Hosts Kiveton Park FC Ladies were making history themselves, reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, and it wasn’t until the final fifteen minutes of this game that Belles finally broke the resolve of the stubborn and hard-working Tier 7 side.

In front of a record home attendance for the hosts, Belles as expected dominated possession from the off. However, for the first half an hour they failed to convert their dominance into goals, squandering a number of chances either through rushed finishing or coming up against resolute defending and in particular some inspired goalkeeping from the home side’s No.1 Hollie Jary.

Belles’ wing play was causing Kiveton problems, with Holly Housley and Chloe Dean getting behind the full backs and putting crosses into the box. On eighteen minutes a Dean cross was met by Shannon Durkin, but she put her low shot just wide. On the half-hour Dean herself had the best chance so far when Housley found her unmarked on the six-yard line, but she put her free header wide.

Belles manager Nick Buxton took advantage of the County Cup “roll-on, roll-off” rule, bringing on Mollie Barlow and Ryley Johnson. The deadline was finally broken on thirty-five minutes when Housley fed a perfect low pass into Oti Laki, who advanced into the box from the left. Kiveton keeper Jary could only parry Laki’s low shot, with the ball then falling kindly across the goal for the incoming Mollie BARLOW to score with her first touch of the ball.

That seemed to relax Belles somewhat, though the rest of the half was marred by a serious injury to Kiveton’s stalwart defender Lucy Drayton, who was taken to hospital where it was later confirmed she had suffered a broken leg.

The second half continued where the first had left off, with Buxton utilising his subs and his team looking to put the tie to bed. However, the home side were still very much in the game, working hard to limit Belles’s attacks to shots from distance, and in the fifty-third minute had a glorious opportunity to level the tie.

A free-kick from inside the home half was sent forward, with Belles failing to get hold of the ball. 'Kivo' captain Sarah Bunting then put a pinpoint chip into the Belles’ box for striker Sky Hughes, who neatly turned her marker Olivia Harness on the six yard line with only Ellie Sharpe in the Belles goal to beat. However Harness recovered to superbly block Hughes’ shot and deny Kiveton the goal that would have changed the dynamics of the game.

Normal service was then resumed and Belles nearly went further in front when Harness pumped a long ball over the Kiveton back line for Lily Wishart to run onto, but her low shot went just wide with Jary beaten. Two minutes later a cross on the left from Laki was punched out from under the crossbar into the path of Barlow who, with her back to goal, swiveled and volleyed over from six yards under pressure from Jary.

Belles continued to apply the pressure and on sixty-five minutes would have easily increased their advantage if it weren’t for a fantastic double save from the impressive Jary. An intercepted ball found Eliza Bedford on thirty yards, who saw her speculative looping effort tipped onto the bar by Jary at full stretch. With the keeper then stranded on the ground, the ball rebounded nicely for Laki to head in unopposed, but somehow Jary recovered to save the header at point blank range and tip over the bar, to the appreciation of the large crowd.

Five minutes later the hosts had their second and final opportunity to level the scores when an intercepted clearance down the right was played into Hughes in the box. The Kiveton striker lost her marker and lined up to shoot in from close range, only to be denied by Johnson racing back to intercept and take the heat out of the shot, which then bobbled into the arms of the grateful Sharpe.

On seventy-three minutes Belles finally broke the Kiveton resolve and doubled the scoreline. As Durkin fed Barlow on the edge of the box, Jary came out to close down the danger, but was left stranded as Barlow played the ball back out to DURKIN who then chipped a composed shot into the empty net from twenty yards. 

With the game now seemingly won, and the home side visibly tiring, Belles relentlessly pushed to add to the scoreline, with Durkin just failing to connect with a Jess Andrew free kick by a whisper, and Bedford shooting over following good build-up play. The attacks were coming in fast with Bedford, Sophie Scargill and Freya Rattenbury trying their luck from distance.

On eighty minutes Barlow provided her second assist of the game when, chasing a long ball down the wing, she turned inside and fed a low ball into the box for DURKIN to skillfully turn her marker and shoot low into the corner for her second and Belles’ third.

Belles got their fourth goal on eighty-seven minutes following good interlinking play by Dean and Bedford out on the right wing, and when Dean put the cross into the back post, Lily WISHART was on hand to steer the ball into the net for her first goal of the season and to wrap up the win against a hard-working and resilient Kiveton side.

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