Caitlin Bates scored both goals as promotion-chasing Pools Women kicked-off 2020 with a solid 2-0 win at Redcar Town on Sunday afternoon.
After a Christmas break, Pools were keen to start the New Year with a positive result but they knew they were unlikely to have it all their own way at Mo Mowlem Memorial Park.
Jonathan Gibbon-Hayes’ side began the game with a fairly strong wind behind them and used it to their advantage to get on the front foot and force a succession of corners in the opening minutes.
The pressure led to a breakthrough on eight minutes when Bates’ inswinging corner from the left deceived everyone and flew in to the net direct to give Pools a 1-0 lead.
On 20 minutes it could have been 2-0 when Justine Robinson skilfully slalomed between three Redcar defenders before being dragged to the ground in the area – but the home keeper made a stunning save to deny Robyn Ingram from the penalty spot.
The Redcar shot-stopper again came to the rescue just before the half-hour mark when Bates raced through on goal but a brilliant one-handed save prevented Pools from making it 2-0.
However, the second goal finally arrived nine minutes before the break as Robinson drove at the Redcar defence, traded passes with Robyn Foster and then drove in to the box before unselfishly squaring for Bates to rifle a finish in to the top corner.
The second half developed in to a real battle as conditions continued to make it difficult for both sides to play.
Pools almost made it 3-0 on the hour when Robinson’s shot was saved by the Town keeper, who then also reacted a couple of minutes later to thwart Foster after good work from Robinson and Faye Garside.
At the other end, Pools goalkeeper Becks Lillystone was also forced in to action when she made a superb save to prevent the hosts from getting back in to the game.
Pools had to defend with determination as the minutes ticked by and were also grateful to Lillystone for another fine save near the end to protect the clean sheet and help clinch three points.
“It wasn’t a great game of football due to the conditions but I always felt that we were in control,” insisted Gibbon-Hayes afterwards.
“For me, the girls showed a huge drive and togetherness and to see the players making 40-yard recovery runs in the final few minutes showed how much it means for them to play for the Club.
“We now have 11 cup finals to play in if we want to go and win the league but I have every faith in this group of players as we prepare for them.”
Full Time: Redcar Town 0 Pools 2
Pools: Lillystone, Bartlett, Stuart, Hanratty, Garside, Ingram, Foster, Robson, Robinson, Pye (Gutcher 70), Bates.
Subs not used: Wilson, Hammond-Garrington.