Pools Women’s Team suffered only their third defeat of the season as improving Harrogate Town ran out 3-2 winners at The CNG Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Craig Devon’s side were looking for a fifth straight win as they made the short trip to North Yorkshire but a below-par performance coupled with some bad luck on the injury front meant it didn’t go to plan.
Pools began the game on the front foot but the loss of influential skipper Justine Robinson to a hamstring injury midway through the first half was a real setback.
Then, just five minutes later, midfielder Sarah Rowbotham was also forced off after catching an elbow in the face and Caitlin Bates came off the bench despite only just returning from an ankle injury.
After going in goalless at the break, Bates made a big impact early in the second half when she drove at the Harrogate defence down the left and found enough space to cross for Alisha Smith who arrived at the back post to make it 1-0 to Pools.
However, the goal seemed to shock Harrogate in to action and the lead lasted only five minutes with the home side getting back on level terms quickly thanks to a strike from skipper Grace Foyer.
On 68 minutes, Town went in front for the first time when a defensive error allowed home defender Racheal MacDonald to release Sophie Tinson through on goal and she tucked home her 16th goal of the campaign to make it 2-1.
And the top scorer was celebrating her 17th when she showed great skill to skip in to space and make it 3-1 with eleven minutes left on the clock.
Pools threw caution to the wind in a bid to get back in to the game and pulled a goal back when Jade Pye drilled home a lovely half-volley to make it 3-2 and provide fresh hope.
There were some nervous moments for Town in the closing minutes as Pools continued to press but keeper Kelly Jackson-Powell clawed one shot round the post and saw another cannon back off the crossbar as they hung on for the points.
The defeat saw Pools slip a place to third in the North East Regional Women’s Football League Premier Division, though they do have games in hand on all of the teams around them.
“We had a depleted squad and injuries suffered in the game caused us issues but we cannot use any of that as an excuse,” admitted Devon afterwards.
“I didn’t think our mentality was right throughout the game. Maybe there was some complacency after winning games and they just expected it to happen again.
“There are huge lessons to be learned both individually and as a team after that and hopefully they will take them on board.”
Full Time: Harrogate Town 3 Pools 2
Pools: Campbell, Stabler, Bartlett, Stuart, Duffy-Smith, Lambert, Rowbotham (Bates 30), Robinson (Hampson 25), Smith, Ingram (Carter 60), Pye.