Dragons have their fire put out

Alnwick I...6 Huddersfield Dragons I...4

ALNWICK hosted Huddersfield at Longhirst in what turned out to be a fantastic game for the spectators and a real roller coaster of fortunes for both teams.

The visitors started ferociously and completely stunned Alnwick with some fast passing and clever running that had them camped in the home team’s goal area. Their pace and pressure drew quick dividends with a series of unstoppable shots giving them a four-goal lead after just 16 minutes of the game.

The Alnwick girls recovered from their poor opening play though and stepped up their game in response.

Rather than being demoralised they started to take the ball for some challenging runs of their own with Oates taking a quick free-hit after spotting a clever run from Murray who picked up the ball and drove into the opposition circle. She beat two attempted tackles before clinically slotting the ball home to open the scoring for Alnwick.

This buoyed the rest of the home team and they continued to press with some clever play from Lincoln and Brown securing a short corner on the half-time whistle.

The whole team pushed up to encircle the D and the overlap of numbers flustered the Huddersfield defence allowing the strike from Cook to find Pettifer’s stick for a neat deflection into the goal.

A determined half-time talk from Richardson saw the home team return to the pitch with the belief and motivation to challenge their visitors’ two-goal lead.

They got off to a flying start with some fast-paced attack from legend Britton earning Alnwick another penalty corner within minutes of the restart. Horn injected a fast ball to Cook whose hard hit towards the post found Pettifer waiting for a classy deflection of the ball into the net over the keeper’s shoulder.

Huddersfield responded with some attempted pressure on the Alnwick goal but they could find no way through the defensive wall of Horn, Allen and Richardson and increasingly frustrated, they began to give away possession under the relentless pressure from Alnwick’s midfield players.

Another short corner in the home team’s favour saw Cook pounce on the initial rebound to unleash a demon shot into the net and level the scores, much to the supporters’ delight on the sidelines.

Not content with taking just a point from the game Alnwick continued to dominate the play with quick thinking and a tireless work-rate from the whole team keeping their visitors on the back foot.

A quick free-hit from Cook found Young on the left wing who sent the ball on up to Murray for a quick pass across to Pettifer on the edge of the circle. She put her phenomenal dribbling skills to use as she skipped past two defenders for a one-on-one opportunity where a skilful dink over the outstretched body of the keeper gave her a third goal and Alnwick took the lead.

The phoenix-from-the-ashes performance was topped off by Cook with a trademark pick-up and drive to the edge of the circle finished with a world-class shot fired past the keeper’s head into the top right corner of the goal.

Huddersfield almost had the last word of the game with a final minute penalty corner but the solid defence team dealt with it tidily to secure the win which Alnwick’s heroic performance deserved.

Team: T Graham, S Horn, N Richardson (c), R Allen, J Oates, A Cook, E Brown, E Young, C Britton, R Murray, G Pettifer, A Lincoln.

Player-of-the-match: Rachel Murray. Match sponsor: Caffé Tirreno, Alnwick.