Hartlepool United Women 4-1 Hartlepool Pools Youth Ladies
Hartlepool United Women secured local bragging rights by defeating Pools Youth 4-1 in an entertaining encounter at Grayfields. Pools were pegged back after taking the lead early on but three second half strikes from Lauren Gray, Robyn Foster and Anya Geary helped to give Craig Bage's side an emphatic victory.
Both sides came out of the blocks with plenty of intent and enjoyed early chances on goal. Robyn Foster worked her way into the box before hitting a shot into the side netting, the visitors flashed a shot wide of Lauren Ranson in the Pools goal.
Pools enjoyed two glorious opportunities to take the lead in the eleventh minute. Mae Rackstraw met Anna Charlton's corner but the new signing's header was tipped away by the Youth goalkeeper. Lauren Gray played the ball back into the box and Atalia Robinson's turn and shot struck the outside of the post.
The breakthrough came in the 24th minute, Zara Johnson played Robinson through on goal and the striker confidently lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Craig Bage's side had the better of the remainder of the first half and enjoyed several chances to double their lead before the break. Robyn Foster played a superb cross to the back post but Johnson was unable to apply the finish. Emily Stuart headed wide from a corner, Gray and Robinson also had chances that went close.
After the break, Pools Youth came out determined to turn the game around and they found an equaliser within seven minutes of the restart. A corner was delivered into the box and the ball was headed into the path of Becky Norman who poked past Ranson to equalise.
This gave the visitors a boost and they took the momentum of the equaliser to assert themselves. Youth enjoyed a fantastic chance on the counter but some solid defensive work from Poppy Forster helped to scramble the ball to safety.
Pools needed inspiration to get a foothold on the game and they found it through a superb strike from Lauren Gray. The midfielder left a defender for dead with a terrific piece of skill before hitting a powerful strike high into the roof of the net.
This took the shackles off the Pools performance and they played with freedom after taking the lead. Robyn Foster had the ball in the back of the net but saw her effort disallowed while Gray fired over the bar from 20 yards.
A third Pools goal seemed likely and it came in the 78th minute. Robyn Foster took aim from 20 yards and, with the aid of a deflection of a Youth defender, made it 3-1. The victory was sealed for Hartlepool seven minutes from time, Anya Geary slotted into the bottom corner for her third goal of the season.
It was a great competitive game at Grayfields, Pools had to work hard for their win in what was an excellent advert for women's football in the town. The victory lifts Hartlepool to second place in the NERWFL table, although the teams immediately below them have games in hand.
Lauren Ranson (sponsored by The Training Club)
Laura Keogh (sponsored by JND Solutions)
Poppy Forster (sponsored by Falcon Electrical and P.A.T Testing)
Emily Stuart (sponsored by Garvey's I.T. Services)
Anna Charlton (sponsored by BR Gardens Easington New page)
Zara Johnson (sponsored by Avec Sport)
Lauren Gray (sponsored by Hydraulic and Offshore Supplies)
Atalia Robinson (sponsored by Global Flooring Studios)
Jess Bage (sponsored by Zulcron Sports) - on 46
Michaela Garvey (sponsored by Dad Loves Food) - on 71
Anya Geary - on 71
Macy Thornton (sponsored by Paul Beddow) - on 89
Liv Smith (sponsored by Sheraton Group) - unused