The ladies made the 200 mile round trip to face league leaders Bridlington Rovers on the back of a solid display against Bradford park Avenue last week. Once again the side was all change due to availability and injuries but the squad were in fine form despite the early departure. The game was a certainty to be on due to the home teams 3G pitch despite all the heavy overnight rain. Avoiding the pre Christmas shoppers foolishly queuing along the A64 in the hope of bagging a bargin, the team left the small bit of sunshine behind as the drove towards the dark satanic sky over Bridlington. Passing through Wetwang towards a Wet Weekend trip in Brid was not that appealing when all had visions of ice cream and waffles by the harbour but they drove on through the wind and the rain and weren't affraid of the dark. And at the end of the storm there was certainly no golden sky and no sweet, silver song of a lark but there was the boomk box and a buzzing Hepworth United Team in a force ten gale and freezing wind.
Playing into the wind against a young quick side who like, and look comfortable on a plastic pitch it was always going to be a difficult match. Hepworth played on through the wind and on through the rain and their dreams and were certainly tossed and blown but this squad has hope and big hearts and never walk alone. A goal behind after 2 minutes two goals behind after 5 minutes and three behind after just 18 minutes and some may have thought it was all over. Not this team it only kicked them into gear as they started to adjust to the conditions and began to start playing like they can. It wasnt pretty at times as Bridlington stuck to their game plan of fast flowing pass and move football and Hepworth gave them far too much time and space early on. Battling the gale force wind also wasn't helping but as the half went on Hepworth eased their way into the game and caused moments of panic for Bridlington. The home side are a well oiled team who are cute in the tackle and know how to put opponents off and do it on the quiet, but Hepworth wised up got closer and got stuck in to disrupt their opposition and it worked. Half chances came and went but they could not find the net the back four of Green, Hirst, Pickles and Govan huffed and puffed against the quick youths with Harper in goal in great form and not at fault for any of the goals conceeded. Just when it looked like they had stemmed the flow Hepworth fell a further goal behind in injury time of the first half as Bridlington went in 4-0 up.
A good half time briefing and a rallying call for that team spirit of last week mixed with a couple of changes and Hepworth were fired up for the second half with the gale now in their favour. Hepworth now playing three at the back and going on the attack pulled a goal back after just three minutes as Lucy Pickles struck a neat 25 yard effort into bottom corner. Five minutes later and the quick feet of Laura Brown sent Sophie Walsh away and she struck a great 22 yard shot into the net and the cracks were there for all to see. Hepworth got stuck in and closed down well and the home side panicked and were forced out of their comfort zone. Caroline kellagher who had come on as part of the back three was linking up exceptionally well with Laura Hirst and Paige Green, as they marshalled Bridlingtons strike force. The midfield lead by captain Jo Forrest was awsome in the second half and her Laura Brown, Emily Wright, and Kim Antonio battled for everything Antonio getting clattered on several occasions eventually had to be cooled down having caught a player whilst trying to pull out of a tackle. Discipline was the order of the day but yet firm and ferocious was required too and each and every player heeded the coaching instructions. Renata ferherova was brought on and she tormented the home side down the left wing from the moment she entered the game. On 65 minutes hepworth should have clawed another goal back but Ferherovas free kick was superbly somehow headed off the line with the keeper stranded. Bridlington were now on the back foot and not looking comfy being in that position. As Hepworth pushed forward they forced the play and gained several corners in succession, from which Renata Ferherova scored direct curling her shot in over the ducking defender who distracted the keeper allowing the ball to ripple the net with some force. It was beautifully curled in with the wind and knocked Bridlington for six, at 4-3 Hepworth players were ooozing confidence and it was now them who were dominating and using the conditions well. Bridlington did try and counter but Harper was in solid form in goal and her outfield players gave everything they had in the tank to shut their opponents out. Harpers long kicks were causing chaos aas was Hepworths midfield dominance as they kept surging forward peppering the goal with shots and crosses. With 82 minutes on the clock hepworth did the impossible and another superb Ferherova corner was met by centre half Laura Hirst who bundled home the equaliser at 4-4. The last 10 minutes saw some frantic and desperate defending as Bridlington desperately hung on in their as Hepworth went for the kill and tried to snatch all three points but both teams had to settle for the draw. This was a long day and a long 200 mile round trip but the point away from home against the league leaders was well worth it. One can not heap enough praise on the lucky thirteen who all played their part in the great comeback, as per last week the whole team deserved the player of the match award but the players voted for Captain Jo Forrest who just beat young kate Govan, Rebecca Harper and Lucy Pickles to the award.