Hartlepool United Ladies battled the odds to claim a creditable point away at league-leaders Durham Cestria on Sunday afternoon.
Depleted by injury and illness, the Ladies were up against it with such a testing away fixture but they showed great character and pride to come away with a share of the spoils.
Andy Stuart’s girls went in to the game with a clear plan and they enjoyed some good possession during a tight first half, though they were unable to test the host’s goalkeeper.
Just before half-time – and against the run of play – Durham Cestria grabbed the opening goal of the afternoon when a ball in from the right was met by the striker who looped a header over keeper Abbie Richardson and in to the net.
Things continued in much the same way after the break with both sides enjoying their fair share of possession but clear-cut opportunities remaining at a premium.
However, with 12 minutes left on the clock Jenni Duffy-Smith caught the home side out with a brilliantly-executed quick free-kick, bending the ball over the wall and in to the net to level the game up at 1-1.
Durham responded by throwing an extra attacker on in a bid to get back in front but Pools held firm and looked a threat on the counter-attack in a frantic final period.
“I thought it was very competitive and a brilliant advert for women’s football,” said Stuart afterwards.
“It was a potentially difficult game for us because of the quality of the opposition and the fact we were down in numbers due to some injuries and illness.
“However, it was a fantastic performance by the girls and in the end we were quite disappointed we didn’t win the game as we felt we were the better side on the day.”
Full Time: Durham Cestria 1 Hartlepool United Ladies 1
Pools: Richardson, Cowan (Lambert 45), Garside, Robinson, Rowbotham, Stuart, Duffy-Smith, Basnett, Pye (Hurrell 60), Bartlett (Freeman 55), Dawson.
Henderson, Ingold.Subs not used: