A performance described by Manager, Andy Williams, as “below par” saw the Midlands One League title slip away, with Loughborough Foxes crowned champions without kicking a ball.
Following last week’s record-breaking 12-0 win it was heartbreak this time round for The Lady Saints, on a day when they were very much second-best to an impressive Radcliffe Olympic side, who would eventually run out comfortable 4-1 winners.
A sluggish start saw TNS go a goal down inside three minutes, as Steph Taylor sliced a clearance into her own net. The warning signs had already been there; a Radcliffe side playing very much on the front-foot had hit the post inside one minute and then had an effort cleared off the line by Katy Huntbach.
However, the scores could have been level with TNS’s first attack, as Stirrup and Bebbington combined well before the former pounced on a loose ball, sending a shot goalward that was scrambled clear.
TNS struggled against a lively and efficient Radcliffe, and were finding the going tough, weathering the storm and a barrage of set-pieces. Yet it was Stirrup who set Bebbington free again, but as she bore down on goal she managed to pull her shot despairingly wide of the far post.
That was as good as it got for the Ladies as they were blown away in the first half by the pace, movement and accuracy of a hungrier home side, with further goals coming on 21 and 37 minutes, making the score at the break 3-0.
The half-time introduction of Sophie Davies and Emily Ridge saw an immediate improvement, with Davies registering two efforts within the first three minutes of the restart. Ridge would also go close, forcing a great save from the goalkeeper with the goal at her mercy.
Yet TNS were undone again by the hosts for the fourth time, before a late rally saw Ridge sting the goalkeeper’s hands, with the goal again at her mercy.
Bebbington scored a consolation with a header from a well-timed run at a corner.
Afterwards a perplexed Andy Williams. was left to rue what was ultimately a damaging day for the Ladies. “Firstly, congratulations to Radcliffe Olympic who I thought played terrifically well on the day. To criticize my players would be wrong, it is more about how well our opponents played today.” he began, before concluding:
“We weren’t great we know that; for us to improve as a team, as a club we have to find a higher level of consistency. We shall continue to work as well as we can.”