Pools Women sent out a warning to their rivals in the NERWFL Premier Division by smashing eight goals past leaders Wallsend at East Durham College on Sunday.
Jonathan Gibbon-Hayes’ side were playing only their third league game of the season at the weekend and knew they faced a challenge against a Wallsend side sitting top of the pile with four wins from their seven outings.
However, after a fairly even and competitive first half, Pools simply blew their visitors away after the break with some stunning football and spectacular goals.
It was 1-0 to Pools on three minutes when Justine Robinson drove forward and slipped an incisive ball through to Robyn Foster who finished clinically.
The Wallsend keeper then had to make a smart save to keep out Jenni Duffy-Smith’s powerful drive, while Pools defender Becky Hanratty was alert to clear a shot off the line at the other end.
The second goal arrived midway through the first half as Caitlin Bates’ through ball found Foster and she showed her pace to motor away from a defender and round the keeper before slotting home a cool finish for 2-0.
Pools looked to be cruising at that point but the visitors began to get a foothold and pulled a goal back just before the half-hour mark after some lovely football and a brilliant finish over keeper Becky Lillystone.
And Pools were left stunning ten minutes later when Wallsend grabbed an equaliser after more inventive play saw the ball put back across goal and rammed in to the net at the far post.
The lead was restored just before the break though – and in some style. A ball was fizzed in to the feet of Bates, who turned skilfully before lashing an unstoppable shot in to the top corner from twenty yards.
The second half began in similarly close fashion but Bates’ second of the game swung things in Pools favour on 55 minutes when she left the keeper rooted to the spot with a left-foot drive in to the far corner of the net.
Straight from the kick-off Bates won possession back and fed the ball forward for Robinson and she let fly with a trademark long-range effort to add her name to the scoresheet in eye-catching fashion and make it 5-2.
It was 6-2 before an hour had been played when Robyn Ingram ran on to a loose ball 35 yards from goal and struck a sweet drive which left the keeper floundering once again as it flew in to the roof of the net.
The lead allowed boss Gibbon-Hayes to make some changes and substitute Ellie Gutcher made an almost instant impact when she sneaked in at the far post to fire in a seventh goal despite Wallsend’s claims of an offside in the build-up.
Fellow sub Lucy Hammond-Garrington then got in on the act when she reacted quickest to Foster’s shot being parried and fired in from the rebound and make it 8-2.
There was still time for an uncharacteristic moment of madness from experienced midfielder Duffy-Smith who stamped on an opponent before lashing out at her for which she was rightly shown a straight red card to leave Pools to finish the game with ten players.
Lillystone made a fine save to prevent Wallsend from grabbing a consolation near the end, while Foster came close to grabbing her hat-trick only to see her powerful drive hit the cross bar.
“I think we’ve just made a statement,” insisted Gibbon-Hayes afterwards.
“Wallsend are sitting top of the table but we’ve just made a statement to the rest of the league that we mean business this season.
“There has been a frustration at games being postponed this season but you could see from the 15 players that got on the pitch today that there is a hunger, and a real belief in the work that we’re doing.”
Full Time: Pools 8 Wallsend 2
Pools: Lillystone, Bartlett, Stuart, Hind (Skull 74), Hanratty, Duffy-Smith, Rowbotham, Ingram (Hammond-Garrington 74), Robinson (Pye 58), Foster, Bates (Gutcher 74).
Subs not used: Smith.