TNS knew that a tenth league win of the campaign, away to in-form Long Eaton LFC, would send them top of the FA Women’s Premier Midlands Division 1. With a slow and jittery start, anything but a win was on the cards, before a dramatic turn of events which saw the ladies recover from an early two goal deficit, scoring three times thus claiming the victory and the coveted top spot .
At one stage, the three points looked lost as TNS were totally outplayed by a stronger, quicker and well organized host side. Long Eaton could have, and should have, opened the scoring with the first attack inside a minute, when the lively winger latched on to a through ball only to see her cross/shot go agonisingly wide of the Saints’ far upright.
The Saints struggled to get their first half into gear, relying heavily on their set-piece play, as Long Eaton continued to threaten. The warning signs were evident and so it was, when, on 18 minutes, the home side finally broke the deadlock.
Following a period of pinball in the TNS defensive third, the center forward dispatched a speculative long range effort that sailed over the head of the stranded Stacey Garnham in goal. One nil soon became two when a harmless diagonal ball behind the TNS defence was met by the winger who coolly slotted past the advancing Garnham.
The tide began to turn with a TNS lifeline, which came two minutes before the interval. Emily Ridge released the ever-willing Laura Morris with a beautifully weighted pass, Morris timing her run to perfection before finishing in style past the despairing Long Eaton keeper to reduce the deficit. In truth it was a goal out of nothing, yet nevertheless very timely.
With their tails up, and following two half time substitutions which including the introduction of new signing Sarah Jackson, TNS were level inside two minutes of the restart. Morris jinked her way forward, before picking out captain Charlotte Canlett, who crashed a volley in from 12 yards.
With the momentum now firmly with TNS, Emily Ridge found herself behind the Long Eaton defence chasing a forward pass. Her incursion into the box was halted by a clumsy foul from the goalkeeper. Charlotte Canlett coolly converted the spot kick much to the delight of the small travelling band of supporters.
That’s four league wins in a row for the Ladies which sees them leapfrog Loughborough Foxes at the summit, who were without a game today.
Afterwards Andy Williams reflected on his side’s fortunes. “It’s not often you see teams able to turn around a two-goal deficit, so naturally we are very pleased. I thought Long Eaton played well and made life difficult for us today.
They will be disappointed not to get something from the game but we showed what we are about today; when we needed it most we showed we can play in different ways to eek out results.
My players are showing not only can they learn quickly, but that they have real character too. They all know their jobs, and they know that by putting their efforts out there for the team that we have a chance.”
Looking forward now to next week’s SSE Women’s FA Cup Round 2 tie Andy continued: “For followers of female football it will be a very interesting game. Both teams have beaten each other already this season, with Khalsa inflicting a heavy defeat on us at home. They are a very difficult opponent; make no mistake we know we have our work cut out if we want to reach the next round.”
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Photos: Adam Reapa
Report: Andy Williams