The Lady Saints were hoping for their first league win in three, and only their second of 2018, as they travelled to The Vale Stadium to play a Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies side who had won the County Cup this week.
However it was to prove another frustrating day for the greens, a disappointing draw leaving manager Andy Williams with much to ponder.
TNS made a positive start in the opening exchanges albeit without being able to puncture a well organised BWM defence. Indeed it was the hosts who came closest to opening the scoring when a mix up between Stacey Garnham and Lou Anderson ended with the keeper diving on a goal-bound effort to prevent an own goal.
The greens grew into the game, forcing a series of corners with no reward. Emily Ridge was a constant threat with her pace, she was unlucky not to capitalise on two occasions thwarted only by smart goalkeeping from the home keeper. Captain Charlotte Canlett appeared to be the one most likely to break the deadlock, going close with three goal-bound efforts that pulled the best out of the BWM keeper.
The half ended goalless.
Two half-time substitutions saw the introduction of Kim Bebbington and Sophie Davies, both having an immediate impact as The Lady Saints made all the running. Canlett, Davies and Morris had early chances that didn’t trouble.
Then, on 50 minutes, BWM scored against the run of play. A long ball from the goalkeeper was helped on and the centre forward running on to the ball hit a speculative effort from 25 plus yards, which easily beat The Saints’ keeper. It was a wonderful strike to open the scoring.
Undeterred, TNS continue to push, Bebbington going close from a flashed cross and Canlett again from distance. It was all TNS with no threat from BWM. The deserved equaliser came on 75 minutes, with a cross from Hannah Yates that was met in the centre by Laura Morris, who converted in style having controlled the ball expertly.
There appeared only one winner at this point as The Saints pushed hard; Canlett going closest with a fabulous strike from the angle that whistled agonisingly over the bar. Morris tested the keeper from distance, and Ridge almost breached the back line only for a last ditch tackle.
Following a bruising encounter littered with stoppages, it was a surprise that the referee blew after only two minutes of added time. With the final score 1-1, a disappointed Andy Williams was left to rue two more dropped points:
“We are making things very difficult for ourself and it is so frustrating. We work incredibly hard during the week and then struggle to perform on game day.
We knew that it would be a physical battle, but we just didn’t get to the levels required. That is one win in four league games now since January; that is not the points return we hoped for and is simply not what we expect.
Some harsh words were exchanged at the end of the game, but the truth is we are in danger of delivering an average season if we do not pick our form back up very quickly. I have told the players they need to take a hard look at themselves, they need to raise their consistency levels and they know it.”