Pools Women came from two goals down to earn a dramatic 3-2 win over Farsley Celtic on Sunday afternoon and blow the NERWFL Premier Division title race wide open.
Justine Robinson’s winner 14 minutes from time capped a remarkable comeback for Jonathan Gibbon-Hayes’ side and the full-time whistle sparked wild celebrations from the girls in blue and white.
High winds made playing football – and defending – difficult for both teams but it was Pools who started the brighter, despite playing in to the gale during the first period.
Jenni Duffy-Smith and Caitlin Bates both sent free-kicks just off target, while Robinson and Sarah Rowbotham also came close to opening the scoring for the home side.
Pools’ dominance during the opening half hour was almost undone when a ball in to the box found the Farsley striker free but, with the goal looming, she was denied by some brave goalkeeping from Becks Lillystone.
However, Lillystone was beaten all ends up on 33 minutes when a long-range free-kick was hammered at goal by Adele Jackson and the strong wind helped it fly in to the roof of the net.
Incredibly, just two minutes later, Jackson doubled her tally with an even better dead ball strike from distance – this time firing an unstoppable effort in to the top corner to give Farsley Celtic a 2-0 advantage.
Crucially, Pools got a goal back just four minutes in to the second half when Bates’ wicked inswinging corner from the left bamboozled the Celtic defence and went in at the front post to give the hosts renewed hope.
Bates then had a shot saved before Robinson sent a curling effort just wide and then saw another ferocious volley land just the wrong side of the post as Pools cranked up the pressure.
The Farsley defence finally caved in on 71 minutes when Robyn Ingram took a leaf out of Jackson’s book by hammering a superb wind-assisted free-kick beyond the helpless visiting keeper to make it 2-2 in stunning style.
Five minutes later Ingram got another chance from a free-kick and this time her whipped effort struck the upright before falling down in to the six-yard area where Robinson gleefully stabbed home before leading jubilant celebrations on the sidelines.
The win saw Pools leapfrog their hosts in the table to move second and just a point behind current leaders Harrogate Town, on whom they have two games in hand.
“It’s a massive three points for us,” admitted Gibbon-Hayes afterwards.
“It was a real game of two halves – we lost the toss and had to play in to the wind in the first period and we conceded to two 40-yard free-kicks.
“But we dominated the game and maintained our belief and in the second half we were in total control and rarely let Farsley in to our half.
“We created chances, we tested their keeper a lot and we got the win I thought we deserved in the end so we’re delighted.
“Now we have seven games to go and, as clichéd as it is, they are all cup finals for us – we’re in a good position but we need to keep working hard and showing the togetherness we have today.”
Full Time: Pools 3 Farsley Celtic 2
Pools: Lillystone, Bartlett, Stuart, Duffy-Smith, Hanratty, Rowbotham, Ingram, Robson (Hampson 87), Robinson, Bates (Hammond-Garrington 83), Foster.
Subs not used: Basnett.
Photo Credit: Paul Rodgers.