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REPORT | Norton & Stockton Ancients 1 Belles 3

25 September 2023

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The Belles made it back-to-back wins with a 3-1 triumph at Norton and Stockton Ancients.

Goals from Phoebe Sneddon, Ryley Johnson and Jas Saxton ensured a second triumph of the FAWNL Division One North campaign.

Sam Winch and Alexandre Brito Noguiera made two changes to the side that beat Rotherham United in the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA Cup with Ellie Sharpe returning in goal and Lilli-Mae Broadhurst drafted into the back line in a change of shape.

The Belles came flying out of the traps and went in front after six minutes.

Saxton worked space for a shot which was parried by Norton keeper Kelsie Moore only for Sneddon to hammer home the rebound.

The Ancients drew level five minutes later. The ball fell to Izzy McEwan from a free kick and she dinked the ball over Sharpe and in off the underside of the crossbar.

The frenetic early pace could not be maintained and, after a quieter spell, Sneddon drilled a shot wide.

Johnson restored the Belles’ lead with a rasping drive from a tight angle to beat Moore at the near post.

Johnson and Saxton also both went close with further efforts before the first half was out, while at the other end Sharpe had to pull off a smart reaction stop at full stretch to cling onto the ball as Hodgson looked to grab another leveller, coming inches away from getting to the ball first and doing so.

Soon after the restart, Hodgson clipped the top of the crossbar with a long-range strike. Sneddon then came inches away from doubling her tally for the day as she connected with a Holly Housley free-kick delivery, and Izzy Gigg was denied only by a last-ditch challenge from a Norton defender.

Striker Maddie Myers had been brought on for the hosts, and looked certain to square things up on 73 minutes but for Jess Tugby-Andrew’s covering run and clearance when the forward had been put through onto an empty goal by attacking partner Hodgson.

But with Norton pushing high, the Belles were able to catch them on the counter, and in the first minute of time added on they made one of their attacks count.

Having cleared a corner, substitute Lauren Breen led a charge upfield alongside Saxton, and when the latter saw another powerful strike at goal parried by Moore, it trickled over the line to put the seal on victory.

The Belles are in action at the Iqbal Poultry Stadium in Thorne next Sunday - October 1 - against third-tier opposition Derby County in the First Round of the FA Women’s National League Plate (2pm KO). 

Belles: Sharpe, Johnson, J. Tugby-Andrew (c), Rattenbury, Housley, Broadhurst (Banaszczyk ‘71), L. Tugby-Andrew, Abadi, Sneddon (Breen ‘78), Gigg (Barlow ‘61), Saxton (Morris ‘90+2). Subs not used: McWilliams

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