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REPORT | Belles 2 Stockport County 2

14 January 2024


REPORT | Belles 2 Stockport County 2

14 January 2024

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The Belles snatched a dramatic draw as they came from behind in a breathless finish to the clash with Stockport County.

What had been a rather drab affair roared into life in the final 15 minutes when all four goals were scored in a rollercoaster finish.

Jasmine Saxton put the Belles in front on 80 minutes only for Stockport substitute Kenzie Bentley to score twice and turn the game on its head.

But Phoebe Sneddon netted a header in added time to secure a share of the spoils for Ciaran Toner’s side.

The visitors started the brighter and were camped in the Belles half of the pitch for the opening five minutes.

But it was the Belles who produced the game’s first opportunity when Lauren Breen was released to the edge of the box, only to fire off target.

Though the game was largely even for much of the first period, it was Stockport who produced the better of the opportunities.

Ellie Sharpe made a comfortable save as Hanifa Douglas volleyed on goal after pouncing on a miscued clearance.

And Sharpe dealt with a low drive from visiting skipper Kennedy Owen from 20 yards moments later.

Midway through the half, a high ball into the box from Owen fell to Olivia Greenhaigh but she could not keep her shot down.

There was very little between the two teams for the remainder of the opening half with both struggling to craft opportunities of real note.

Stockport were on the front foot early in the second half and it needed an excellent tackle from the impressive Freya Rattenbury to prevent Maria Figueiredo from breaking clean through on goal.

Izzy Gigg made a brave block to keep out an effort from Jessica Gillin from a corner while Sharpe produced a smart save as Douglas powered a shot on goal.

A fine counterattack from the Belles saw Gigg played into the box but her shot was blocked out for a corner.

Owen curled a free kick narrowly wide just after the hour mark.

An excellent challenge from Gigg on the edge of the box saw the ball roll through to Jasmine Saxton who rounded the keeper but could not hit the target from a tight angle.

The Belles had struggled to get top scorer Saxton into the game but she raced onto a ball forward on 69 minutes only to fire well over the bar.

Sharpe made a fine low save to tip the ball wide as Stockport substitute Kenzie Bentley looked to slot home.

And the Belles keeper showed real bravery at her near post to prevent the visitors from capitalising on a goalmouth scramble.

Few could have predicted just how much the game would come to life in the final ten minutes.

The Belles took the lead on 80 minutes. Gigg powered through the middle of the park and slid the ball into the box for Saxton, who rounded the keeper and found the far corner from a tight angle.

Stockport equalised six minutes later. Sharpe made a strong save to bat away a drive from Bentley but could do little about the follow-up as the substitute drilled home.

And within two minutes the visitors were ahead. Sharpe pushed away a header from Bentley who again pounced to follow-up.

Just as it looked as though the Belles had been dealt a cruel blow, they found the equaliser when Sneddon rose to nod home a corner at the near post.

And there was still time for Sneddon to find the back of the net again, only to see the flag raise for offside.

Belles: Sharpe, R Johnson (Yates 78), J Tugby-Andrew, Rattenbury, Housley, L Tugby-Andrew (Sneddon 67), Gigg, Abadi, McWilliams, Saxton, Breen (Barlow 62). Subs not used: Johnson, Banaszczyk.

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