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Belles

REPORT | Belles 1 Peterborough Utd 2

8 May 2023

Belles

REPORT | Belles 1 Peterborough Utd 2

8 May 2023

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Belles fell to defeat in their final game of the season at the Iqbal Poultry stadium, conceding a late winner to the visitors.

Both sides were without key players for this clash, and with the runners-up slot already secured in FAWNL Division 1 Midlands, Belles manager Nick Buxton included players in his squad who had not had much game-time over the season, with Eliza Bedford, Ryley Johnson and Freya Rattenbury named in the starting line up and Pheobe Marrow and Amy Nowell on the bench.

On an increasingly warm day, Belles were first out of the blocks when Johnson put an early low cross into the box, but Peterborough 'keeper Hastings collected on the six yard line before Sophie Scargill - playing as central striker - could get a touch.

The Posh Women then won a couple of free kicks that came to nothing before play was stopped on nine minutes for Abi Coley to receive treament following a collision of heads. On the re-start the referee awarded a drop ball to the visitors who subsequently pumped a long ball up to Kier Perkins who, cutting in from the left, shot wide.

Perkins was involved again a few minutes later when the Belles defence didn't clear another long ball over the top, with the ball falling to the Peterborough captain but Belles 'keeper Ellie Sharpe - on her 70th appearance for the club - came out quickly to collect the attempted lob.

The game then settled into a pattern of both sides looking to move the ball forward quickly but with no real efforts on goal, although on twenty-two minutes Coley did well to win the ball back in the penalty area and pull the ball back for Izzy Gigg, but the Belles number 16 couldn't get enough power on her shot and it was easily saved by Hastings.

On the half hour the referee called for a drinks break, and on resumption, with Ryley Johnson off the field receiving treatment and Belles down to ten, the visitors took the lead when Rattenbury and Gigg both went for a header with the ball falling to Perkins out on the left who put in a cross to the back post for TARA KIRK to plant a looping header over Sharpe into the net.

Johnson was then unable to continue and replaced by Izzy Trevillion. Belles went in search of the equaliser and five minutes got it with a move out from the back, when Rattenbury won the ball and found Tugby in the centre. Tugby then played the ball out to the right for Holly Housley to advance and dummy her marker and put a cross into the box. The ball came out to IZZY GIGG, who played a neat one-two with Lindsey Tugby on the edge of the box before holding off her marker and advancing into the box to fire an unstoppable shot past Hastings into the top corner for her first goal for the Belles.

With the scores level, both sides looked to take an advantage into the break and with the last kick Posh hit the bar as Perkins went on a run down the left and shot goalwards, ending a half in which the visitors had started the stronger but Belles had come back into it with a finely worked goal.

It was then Belles who started the second half strongly, as Gigg went on two early driving runs into the box to put dangerous crosses in, with Eliza Bedford beating Hastings to the ball for the first one, putting Scargill in who at full stretch was just unable to apply the finishing touch, and then moments later Coley unable to get on the end of the second cross to finish that move off.

On fifty-four minutes Mollie Barlow replaced Eliza Bedford, with Belles continue to force the game and put Posh under pressure with constant attacking play. However the visitors were defending resolutely and managed to survive through to the next water break on the hour.

On sixty-five minutes, Liv Harness replaced Abi Coley as play became bitty and confined mostly to the midfield, being broken up as it was by injuries and water-breaks. It wasn't until the seventy-second minute that Posh had their first effort of the half when Rosie Axten puts a shot over the bar, to be followed moments later by Jess Andrew - now playing in a more midfield  role - shooting straight at Hastings at the other end.

On seveny-six minutes Belles manager made more substitutions, giving game time to Phoebe Marrow and Amy Nowell who replaced Emily Cahill and Izzy Trevillion. As the game moved into the final ten minutes, Barlow and Scargill combined well to find Nowell who lined up the shot from the edge of the box but saw her effort go wide of the post.

Peterborough came back into the game and on eight-five minutes a shot by Perkins was saved by Sharpe, with Freya Rattenbury putting in a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Perkins the follow-up shot, with the ref waiving away claims from the away bench for a penalty. However in their third attack of the half the visitors took the lead when a cross from the right found EVIE DRISCOLL-KING in the box who made no mistake from close range.

Now chasing the game, Belles pushed forward to try and rescue the points. A free-kick routine caused confusion in the away defence, falling to Barlow who shot well over. The visitors were then reduced to ten players for the rest of the game with a player being sinned-binned by the ref.

As the game went into added time, Hastings kept Posh in the game, getting behind shots from Barlow and Gigg as Belles pressed hard, although the Peterborough 'keeper nearly gifted the equaliser with just  seconds to go as her scuffed clearance from the edge of the box fell to Scargill out on the right who shot first time from distance towards the open net, but Hastings managed to get back in time to collect the shot and give the visitors the win in a game that had no effect on Belles' final runners-up position but sealed a fourth place finish for Peterborough. 

***

Team: Sharpe, Andrew ©, Rattenbury, Johnson (Trevillion 31mins, replaced by Nowell76mins), Housley, Cahill (Marrow 76mins), Tugby, Gigg, Scargill, Coley (Harness 65mins), Bedford (Barlow 54mins)

Subs unused: - 

Goals: Belles - Gigg 35 mins. Peterborough - Kirk 30 mins, Driscoll-King 86 minutes

Belles Player Of The Match: Izzy Gigg

Attendance: 195

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