Varsity 2012: Women's Firsts battle to victory against Hull

York’s Women’s football 1sts battled to a hard-earned victory against their Hull counterparts at Varsity 2012, with Sam Barker’s stunning effort midway through the first half proving enough to secure victory for the home side.

Hull, currently sitting in second place in their BUCS division, may have come into the game expecting victory against their North Yorkshire rivals, who sit at the foot of the same table. However, despite fielding a somewhat makeshift defence, and having to replace first-choice goalkeeper Megan Phillips early in the game, York more than matched their opponents throughout the ninety minutes.

The first real incident of note threatened to overshadow the entire game. A cutting through ball from Hull found its way to an attacker deep into York’s half. The forward, in acres of space, ran directly towards goal, opting to try and dribble it around ‘keeper Megan Phillips. The latter put her body on the line for her side, coming out and blocking the point-blank attempt, but took what seemed to be a boot to the face in the process. After treatment from paramedics, the courageous goalkeeper left the field of play, with forward Rose Hooks strapping on the goalie gloves in her place.

York Women's Firsts celebrate their win over Hull Firsts. ©The Yorker

The unfortunate injury and the ensuing delay seemed to galvanise York, who started to apply pressure to the visitors. A pinpoint pass played in lively winger Savannah Green, who did well to round the onrushing ‘keeper, but was forced wide and could only fire into the side netting.

For all York’s industry in midfield, their goal came from one magnificent moment of individual skill. Sam Barker, a constant danger when on the ball, received a pass in midfield, before curling a lofted sumptuous effort into the top corner from thirty yards out.

Hull looked to respond instantly to the setback, and would have done so were it not for York’s replacement ‘keeper. A ball over the top to a Hull forward was once again controversially deemed onside, but Rose Hooks was quick to react, rushing out and preventing a Hull equaliser with a good block. Some solid defending ensured that York went into half-time with a slender but well-deserved lead.

After the restart, chances were few and far between, with Barker and the impressive Marte Wang winning the midfield battle for the home side. The game burst into life around the hour mark, as Rachael Carpenter’s defence managed to frantically scramble a Hull corner away from the six yard box. The clearance found striker Amy Johnson at the halfway line. Charging forward with only one defender to beat, only a crunching last-ditch challenge prevented Johnson from getting the opportunity to double York’s advantage. York continued to look dangerous in the final third, with Wang twice blazing high and wide after working her way into the box.

As the game wore on, the leniency of the refereeing was slowly becoming apparent. A poorly-timed challenge on winger Bea Rye briefly raised the hackles of both sides, but the man in the middle refused to issue so much as a yellow card. The passive nature of the officiating soon favoured York, as a Hull attacker was brought down in the box. Despite loud appeals, the referee deemed the challenge acceptable. At the other end, Bye was again felled by a robust challenge, this time in the area, but the outcome remained the same.

Hull look to press forward, but to no avail. ©The Yorker

Moving into the closing stages, Hull tried to get forward, but their efforts were frustrated by a well-disciplined defence and hard-working midfield. On no fewer than three occasions, some tremendous challenges from the likes of captain Carpenter and Holly Knox thwarted Hull’s forays forward. As the final whistle sounded, the delight on the faces of York’s victorious players was there for all to see.

York women’s captain Rachael Carpenter was impressed by her side’s strength at the back and in midfield, saying that whilst the rotating defence had been “a little hazy” in recent times, they had performed admirably on the day, adding that “when Marte (Wang) was in midfield taking control of the game, it gave both the midfield confidence and the defence confidence.” She also took the time to commend Barker’s match-winning strike, rightly describing her goal as “spectacular”.

With a trip to Northumbria on the cards next week, Carpenter will no doubt hope that her side can build on this impressive showing and improve their league standing. For now, the women’s side can celebrate a hard-fought, well-earned victory against their northern rivals.

The Yorker MOTM: Tough; between Marte Wang and Sam Barker

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