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REPORT | Belles 0 Solihull Moors Women 0

30 January 2023


REPORT | Belles 0 Solihull Moors Women 0

30 January 2023

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A tense, tight, yet entertaining encounter between the second and fourth-placed teams in FAWNL Division 1 Midlands saw the points shared at the Iqbal Poulty stadium.

Playing their first home game of 2023, and first league game since December 4th, Belles were looking to regain momentum after the long lay-off and to build on the up-tempo win against Kiveton Park Ladies in the County Cup last weekend.

Belles manager Nick Buxton handed a first senior start to Mollie Barlow following an impressive performance last week, with Ryley Johnson starting on the right and a return to the midfield for Lindsey Tugby. Solihull arrived in Moorends on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run and were looking to do the double over Belles, having won 2-0 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

With a cross-field breeze and on a heavy pitch, the opening quarter was a cagey affair as each side looked to impose itself on the other. The visitors had most of the early pressing, looking to use to the pace and skill of their fast forward line, but only had a 40 yard free-kick that sailed over the bar to show for their efforts.

The stalemate continued until around the half-hour mark when Belles started to have chances. Izzy Gigg put in a looping shot from the edge of the box following a throw-in on the right, and moments later, after Sophie Scargill and Ryley Johnson had combined for Johnson to put in a great cross under pressure, Gigg was there again but lacked power behind her shot. Belles then broke at pace out of defence, with Emily Cahill finding Scargill in the centre who then found Johnson in space on the right. Johnson put a first-time ball in behind the Moors’ backline for striker Barlow to run onto, but Moors’ ‘keeper Harley Savage was alert to the danger and was quickly off her line to collect the ball.

Solihull immediately hit back, with a low cross into the box from the left that Belles’ keeper Ellie Sharpe smothered at the near post. On thirty-four minutes Belles had a scare when a clearance from a Moors corner fell to Cheyanne Jarvis who saw her shot hit the post and bounce out of play, and on forty-three minutes a quickly-taken free kick nearly caught Belles napping as Lyndsey Ross-Baker out on the right lost her marker, closed in on Sharpe, and then chipped a ball across the face of goal. Luckily for Belles, Johnson got to the ball first to keep the scores level going into the break.

In the first half Belles had worked hard to negate Solihull’s midfield play, with the backline of Freya Rattenbury, Izzy Trevillion and captain Jess Andrew having to deal in particular with the pace of Tiana Russell-Cartwright and Ross-Baker upfront. Whereas Moors may have had the better of the play before the break, that was to change in the second as the home side stepped up a gear and took the game to the visitors.

Straight from the off, Barlow won the ball out on the right for Johnson to cross into the box. Scargill received the ball on the penalty spot with her back to goal, but as she turned she was quickly closed down and unable to get enough power on her shot. On forty-eight minutes, Andrew fired a long range free-kick into the box that keeper Savage punched out under pressure to Gigg, but her shot was blocked by a forest of legs.

Five minutes later, Belles had a great chance to take the lead following a sweeping passing move involving eight players. The ball was won by Tugby, moved out from the backline from Andrew through Trevillion, and onto Barlow down the left. Barlow played the ball back into Cahill and then Tugby in the centre, who passed to Gigg to play a through ball for Johnson to run onto and shoot at goal as she cut in from the right, Moors ‘keeper Savage was unable to hold the shot and the in-coming Scargill was unlucky to see the rebound loop over her head and cleared to safety.

Belles were now in the driving seat, with POTM Gigg, Cahill and Tugby effective in closing down the visitors in midfield and Scargill playing a more attacking role. On fifty-five minutes, a clearance from Rattenbury found Holly Housley out on the left who put in a first-time ball for Scargill to run onto, but Savage was alert to pinch the ball off her toes. Although Moors weren’t enjoying anywhere as near as much of the ball as they had done in the first half, at the other end captain Zoe Creaney provided a rare threat when she fired a 30 yard free-kick goalwards that Sharpe palmed round the post for safety.

On fifty-eight minutes Housley again found Scargill with a sublime defence-splitting through-pass into the six yard box, only for Savage to smother at Scargill’s feet. Jess Andrew then fired a series of free-kicks goalwards, and moments later Johnson followed up with a shot that went over. On sixty-three minutes the visitors had the biggest let off and Belles' best chance so far when Barlow was put through in the clear by Scargill with only Savage to beat, but the busy keeper stood firm to block the low shot on the six yard line to and keep Moors in the game.

On seventy-one minutes, Barlow and Cahill were replaced by Olivia Harness and Nadia Khan, and on seventy-five minutes the visitors had to yet again thank ‘keeper Savage when she first punched out a goal-bound Andrew free-kick from under the bar and then was on hand to save Harness’s shot at the back post under pressure from Khan from the subsequent corner.

Moors had been on the backfoot since half-time as Belles pushed for the killer goal, but started to come back into the game late on and could have taken the lead when after seventy-eight minutes a quick break down the right led to a cross that found Jarvis in the box, but she put her shot well over from 12 yards. As the game moved into added time, the visitors could again have nicked it when a free-kick into the box was met on the six yard line and flicked goalwards past the diving Sharpe, but luckily for Belles the ball went just wide of the far post. As the final seconds ticked away, Belles went up the other end to try and take the points with free-kicks, a corner and crosses into the box, but the away side held firm to ensure this intriguing game finished all square.

Team: Sharpe, Rattenbury, Andrew ©, Trevillion (Dean 82), Johnson, Cahill (Harness 71), Gigg, Tugby, Scargill, Housley (Wishart 80), Barlow (Khan 71).

Subs unused: Durkin.

Attendance: 224.




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