TF were represented in the stands at St James’ Park again on Sunday as this time Becky Langley’s side try to secure promotion and the title in Division 1 North, it was a good day for goals, not so much for goalkeepers!

16th April 2023, FAWNL Division One North

Newcastle Utd Women 6

Guy (22, 72); Potts (29, 85); Gibson (54); Lee (57)

Bradford City Women 1

Ramsden (81)

Attendance 24, 092

St James’ Park games for the Lasses have become more common, hard to believe it was fifty weeks ago that they played their first game at the “cathedral on the hill”. Since then a cup game has been played here, though it was originally supposed to be this fixture. Before kick off NUFC had played eighteen games, whilst Durham were top, having played twenty of the twenty-two games in a full season.

With only one team going up, this game was massive, as the six point gap with those two games in hand might make goal difference crucial. At this stage Durham held a three goal advantage.

As with the first game that was played here against Alnwick, kick off was delayed ten minutes before the start. On the first game this was because, with cash turnstiles only, the club had not predicted the numbers that would turn up and was opening up other stands as the lines of people queueing for tickets continued. This game, it was because of the number of people queueing up at the box office to collect tickets.

The match started with Newcastle attacking the Leazes and with a clear aim to get the ball wide and make sure their wingers were given the opportunity to put the ball in the box. There was an early chance for Anna Soulsby who shot wide after the ball had broken to the edge of the area.

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Another Gibson set piece was not dealt with and Freya Bailes laid it off, the lively Kacie Elson shot wide. It was nice to see the crowd getting behind the team, and the Bradford keeper then made an outstanding save from Elson again moments later.

Then came the theme of the day, corners. Georgia Gibson’s two previous set pieces had worried Bradford; this one dropped on the head of Beth Guy, who nodded towards goal. The Bradford custodian was only able to push it up and into the roof of the net. There was a slight shock as it appeared unclear to some how the ball had gone in, but the Leazes end rose first and the rest followed.

Seven minutes later and a corner found Charlotte Potts, who powered her header in. The Toon were up and running. With Bradford in the relegation zone they sensed a chance to take advantage and close that gap.

The rest of the first half was spent with Bradford backpedaling and Newcastle looking to further their advantage. Another long Gibson cross came all the way to Soulsby again, but the keeper came to challenge her and, rather than finding the net, the ball fell on top of it.

At half-time the women’s development squad paraded their reserve plate trophy. They were joined on the pitch by Amanda Staveley who was talking up the ownership view of expanding the women’s team and the development squad. Mehdrad Ghodoussi was also present but didn’t speak to the cameras, while standing with the owners was Lioness Carly Telford – a sign that the expansion of the women’s game may be more than just words, so the second half could not have been more important.

The first opportunity again fell to the home side and it was important to see Gibson’s reaction to the rebound, as, although it went wide, five minutes later having been played in with just the keeper to beat, the rebound came back to her and she tidied up. Quickly after and Elson (who was full of running and gave the opposition right back a really tough afternoon) was brought down in the area. Rachel Lee stepped up and confidently dispatched it into the Gallowgate net. Katie Barker thought she had another two minutes later but the offside flag was up quickly.

After that the game was about whether Bradford could keep it at four. They were trying to play on the counter but a long free kick from Potts was headed in by Guy for her second, and the game was up. The speed with which the ball was returned to the centre circle was a sign that this game was not seen as over by the home side.

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However, after a couple of home changes which saw Elson and Barker depart, the pace of the game noticeably slowed. The killer instinct was not as clear in the home side’s play: lots of possession, some great passes but no killer ball to end the game.

So it would be that a debatable free kick was given right down in the corner, Ramsden for Bradford had seen the impact corners had at the other end. So of course she sent a high looping ball towards the back post, and in true Chris Waddle style put it right in the top corner. The twenty or so Bradford fans in the corner applauded as did the home fans, it was a great effort and nice to see the away side get some reward for their endeavour.

However, the last word went to Newcastle again. A corner (shock) into the box from Gibson, and Potts placed a downward header in for number six.

After that it was over bar the whistle. There was not the atmosphere of the first two games where occasional singing would break out around the ground. There were random efforts to get some singing going but it felt a bit forced.

However, another win on the SJP turf and now three away games (Leeds, Bradford, Barnsley) where winning all three should see the lasses promoted. The feel good factor remains at SJP and I’m sure they will be looking to get more games here next season.

Stephen Ord @smord84