A decent crowd of 1,699 saw The Blues in action, in their dedicated Rainbow Laces game, against The Wildcats this afternoon. Fans were able to watch the game from the newly refurbished Lower Kop and were treated to another fantastic performance by the girls in Royal Blue. Darren Carter made one change from last week’s win against London City Lionesses, as Jade Pennock came in for Ellie Mason.
It was an entertaining first half with Blues on the front foot for most of it. There were a few chances for Blues in the first ten minutes, the best falling to Gemma Lawley in the 8th minute, but her header off a Lucy Quinn corner was cleared off the line. It didn’t take long for Blues to take the lead though. Lily Agg was played in behind the Durham defence, by a great ball from Quinn, her cross into the box found Ivana Fuso who mis-hit it, but it fell to Pennock, sliding in at the back post to put Blues 1-0 up in the 12th minute! Blues remained on the front foot for the next twenty minutes, with more chances. Jade Moore tried her luck with a long range shot, but it was comfortably collected by Tatiana Saunders. Agg showed great skill just outside the box to keep the ball and cutely play in Fuso, who made a great turn inside the area to get a shot off, but Saunders made a solid save to keep Durham in it. The 30th minute brought us a beautiful goal that I intend to watch again and again. Moore won the ball back in midfield, played it out to Pennock down the right hand side, Pennock passed it to Libby Smith in the box who played in Moore who had, in the meantime, made a great run into the box, back to Smith who fired the ball towards goal, it was saved but Fuso was running in to double Blues’ lead. 2-0 thanks to a fantastically well-worked team goal that tore through the Durham defence. Blues were given a bit of a scare just three minutes later when Eleanor Ryan-Doyle proved me right as one to watch and got a goal back against her former club to make it 2-1. Blues had a big penalty shout in the 38th minute when Fuso was fouled in the box, but the referee waved the protests away. The half ended 2-1 to Blues, but it really could have been more and there was the sense that there was more to come from The Blues in the second half.
The Blues were off on the front foot again with a chance in the first five minutes the ball was flicked on to Smith by Agg, but she couldn’t quite get hold of the ball which was cleared by a Durham defender, straight into the raised arm of her teammate, Pennock got to the ball but her shot was blocked. In the 64th minute, Blues got a third. Great work by Martha Harris down the left hand side and her cross met the head of a flying Remi Allen (on for Agg) to put Blues 3-1 up! The 74th minute brought one of the most, let’s say, controversial decisions I’ve ever seen. I was on my feet applauding Lawley’s effort to get back and make a brilliant last-ditch tackle, only to look over and see the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Lucy Thomas was out for justice though and saved the penalty from Saoirse Noonan, a save which was celebrated just as much as, if not more than, the three goals. The second-half was very stop-start due to injuries, and there was 10 added minutes. Just as the board went up, Choe Yu-Ri (not long since on for Pennock) had Blues fans on their feet with a great strike that hit the the post, but it agonisingly pinged back away from goal. You don’t get any closer without scoring! The game ended 3-1 to Blues, in another brilliant and well deserved win!
It was a fantastic team performance by The Blues today, great battles all over the pitch and three very well-worked goals. There was a lot of freedom in the way Blues played in the first half and the fluid movement was great to see. As mentioned, the second half didn’t really show the same level of play as it was very stop-start but a solid second-half, nonetheless. The win leaves Blues 5th in the table, but only two points off the top! The next league game is away at second placed Sunderland, in around a month’s time. After already taking a point from them, another three will be massive! The Blues are in action before then though, away to Charlton in the Conti Cup where the Blues will be hoping to move up Group E.
It’s a shame there’s a bit of a break in the league as Blues are on a fantastic run, unbeaten in the league since September and winning their last five league games! That leaves Bluenoses with plenty to look forward to and some season it’s shaping up to be…