The first league game of the season for the ladies team and wow what a fixture it has thrown up last years runners up v last years champions. Hepworth United v Tingley Athletic, the latter who seem to have just had the upper hand in recent years between the two clubs. Hepworth were confident going into the game this season this despite a 4-0 defeat at home in the FA cup 2 weeks earlier where their oponents have had two successive wins against higher opposition in the same competition. Playing down the slope in the first half Hepworth were straight on the attack and inside two minutes Captain Jo Forrest saw her effort well saved. Tingley were camped deep in their own half as Hepworth pushed forward in search of the opening goal, and just a minute later a superb run down the left wing by Renata Feherova saw her lay the ball moff to Abigail Iggleden whos quick turn and pass set up Forrest again but her shot went just wide of goal. Hepworth finally got their dream start on 10 minutes as Rebecca Purchon raced down the right and sent a cross over to Sophie King who hit a sublime volley into the bottom corner of the net. They should have stretched their lead on 17 minutes as their possestion forced a corner and Medrita Prebrezova saw her shot from a goal mouth scramble blocked and the rebound was fired over the bar from Jo Forrest. Hepworth were relentless in their search for goals and could have been out of sight in the first 30 minutes had they have converted the many chances they created. The two wide players Renata Feherova and Steph Teale both making their home league debuts bombarded the box with cross after cross but Tingley somehow managed to survive as players slid in or headed goalwards or the ball just whizzed straight through the crowd of players. Abigail Iggleden soon after had a shot well saved before Renata Feherova again sent over another great cross which deceived everyone. A couple of substitutions were made on both wings with Claudia Cleary and Hannah Nicholl replacing Teale and Feherova with the hope of fresh legs pushing on and turning the many chances into goals. Harper in goal was a mere spectator for most of the half as the Back four had been great in their marshalling of the young pacy striker. Becky Kirk had a great goalbound header saved and a free kick awarded against her when it appeared the keeper had barged into Kirk and as just on the half hour mark she was replaced by Laura Hirst fresh from her drive back up north in a massive van (Tiny in reality) it was only to be a short rest for kirk whos fitness after a long American vaccation is increasing week on week. Laura was very nearly caught out in the first seconds as the striker beat her on the chase but Hirsty recovered well and forced her wide to put her off her shot. Claudia Cleary was hustling and bustling down the left flank and got at the Tingley defence at every oportunity causing chaos and delivering some great crosses into the box. Another debutant Emma Holroyd replaced the skillful Jayne Smith in midfield again as Hepworth look to run Tingley into the ground. Smith had caused numerous problems in the attacking midfield position aqnd looked back at her best again. Right on the stroke of half time just as it looked like Tingley would scrape through only a goal behind after a great pass Claudia Cleary opened her account for the season with a well taken goal from the edge of the box to make it 2-0.
Hepworth expected a fight in the second half as Tingley had the slight slope and the weather was changing in their favour. The visitors still struggled to get hold of the ball and were forced to defend for long periods but they did ease their way into the game slowly but for the most part Hepworth were dominant, and they stretched their lead further with a move out of defence as Jo Forrest passed out wide to Steph Teale who in turn moved the ball to Rebecca Purchon on the wing and her run up the flank saw her outpace everyone and she hit a first time shot from 25yards out which crashed in goal of the underside of the bar to make it 3-0. Tingley did start throwing players for4ward and Harper was called into action on a couple of occassions making a few outstanding saves. Hepworth brought on Claire Berry who help stesdy the ship with some cool defending while under pressure and some great passing from a defensive midfield position. But even Berry was unable to stop Tingley getting on the scoresheet as a long ball beat everyone and despite shouts for offside the striker raced forward and slotted home to make it 3-1. Harper was called upon just a couple more times the first from a corner and a goal mouth scramble she punched the ball clear, then a great blocking save while one on one with the striker at the edge of the box.
This was a fantastic result for the squad who absolutely deserved the win and got their season off to a flyer. Special mention should go to injured duo Kim Antonio and Gemma Robshaw who both were on the side to support while injured Kim as vocal as ever but more importantly both sorted out the food and beverages for the squad after their great efforts.
The player of the match award was awarded to Rebecca Purchon who was outstanding on the day and won her bet as we await Stevo's full moon!