Hartlepool United Ladies were beaten for only the fourth time this season as Farsley Celtic came from behind to take all three points at Grayfields on Sunday.
Andy Stuart’s team looked in control when Jess Dawson fired them in front seven minutes before half time but the visitors rallied after the break and earned an excellent victory.
A tight opening to the game meant for few chances in the early stages but Jenni Duffy-Smith came close to breaking the deadlock after turning brilliantly on a short corner only to see her driven shot deflected across goal and wide.
Despite not being at their fluent best, Pools did get their noses in front late in the first half when a long ball cut the Farsley defence open and Caitlin Bates charged through on goal. Her first attempt was well saved by the keeper but she recovered to get on to the rebound and slipped it across to Dawson who coolly rolled home the opening goal.
It could have been 2-0 a couple of minutes later when Sarah Bartlett fizzed a superb ball across the six-yard area which found Dawson at the back post but her powerful volley was blocked well by the keeper.
The visiting shot-stopper was in inspired form and had to pull off an incredible save on 42 minutes when Bates skilfully turned on to her left foot on the edge of the box and let fly with a powerful drive which was heading in to the top corner until the keeper pulled off a remarkable fingertip save.
Bates was frustrated by the keeper again five minutes in to the second half when she drove inside from the right and struck a firm shot with her left foot which was parried away.
As the second half wore on the visitors grew in confidence and they could have levelled things up after a mix-up at the back but the final shot looped just over the crossbar with keeper Jo Hurrell scrambling.
Justine Robinson tested the Farsley keeper again with a well-struck free-kick, while at the other end there was a huge let-off for Pools when the away side failed to take advantage of a slack back pass.
However, Pools didn’t heed the warnings and conceded an equaliser on 70 minutes when a shot was turned round the post by Hurrell only for Emma Lee to head home at the near post from the resultant corner.
Chelsea Basnett had a half chance to put Pools back in front almost immediately when she got in to space on the left of the area but her prodded shot was well held by the keeper.
And with thirteen minutes left the crucial moment arrived when Hurrell’s throw was intercepted by Aaliyah Allen and she produced a wonderful finish past the stranded keeper to put Farsley 2-1 up.
Pools threw caution to the wind during the closing stages but the visiting defence held firm in the face of intense pressure and hung on to celebrate three points and inflict a rare defeat on Stuart’s girls.
“I think on the basis of today a draw would have been a fair result really,” Stuart told us afterwards.
“Their keeper has made some fantastic saves – I think maybe our finishing could have been better at times but that’s not to take anything away from the keeper because she was superb.
“It was a close game, a good game and in the end it was an individual error from Jo so she’ll be mortified but she made one error in the game and nobody will be having a go because she’s not a goalkeeper but stood up and helped the team.
“It was a hot day which made it difficult for both teams but I was pleased with our effort and the way we stuck at it – with a bit of luck we could have had the win but these things happen and sometimes you have to take it on the chin.”
Full Time: Hartlepool United Ladies 1 Farsley Celtic Ladies 2
Pools: Hurrell, Bartlett, Robinson, Stuart, Garside, Duffy-Smith, Portas (Lambert 58), Basnett, Dawson (Hammond-Garrington 89), Pye (Ingram 79), Bates.
Sub not used: Rackstraw.