Harrogate Railway Ladies played their last pre-season game on Sunday at home against Silsden.
Played in strong, gusting wind and blowing the length of the pitch; any high balls played with the wind behind them were carried the full length of the pitch.
Railway started brightly enough, passing and moving but as Silsden found their feet they started to put great pressure on Rails’ back four and had a terrific low shot tipped around the post by Railway’s goalkeeper, Charlotte Donnelly.
This chance lifted the spirits of Silsden who went on to dominate the first half and without Harrogate Railway’s keeper being on top form, Silden could have easily been three or four goals to the good at half time.
Railway found themselves struggling to even string more than two or three passes together, quite a rare thing as they generally work hard on keeping possession. So as half time came it was with great relief that the score was still 0-0.
The half time team talk was mainly to tell the players that with seven regular first team players away this week, it was their chance to prove to the manager that a place in next week’s first round cup-tie against Sheffield United was theirs for the taking.
With a few changes at the beginning of the second half, Railway started a lot better, creating more chances in the first 10 minutes than the whole of the first half. Skipper Ali Purvis went back into her normal role at right back.
Ali was then able to move forward and put in some excellent crosses for the new and young centre forward Chloe Crombie to run onto.
After 60 minutes it was Chloe who managed to get a great strike in on goal to score in the bottom corner and make it 1-0. In the midfield another new player this season, Megan Butterworth, was linking up well with Lauren Taylor and causing Silsden all sorts of problems.
Silsden kept on fighting and with just over ten minutes left they won a penalty after the referee deemed that Ali Purvis had deliberately hand-balled in the area, a decision that seemed a little harsh.
Railway’s second keeper, Erika Birnie, in only her second competitive match was un-fazed, guessing correctly and getting her hand to the ball but was unable to stop it trickling over the line to make it 1-1.
The match was then played out with both teams creating a number of chances in they dying minutes, but unable to take any of them.
The last friendly was a good run out for the Railway ladies but much improvement will be needed for the first game of the season next Sunday. With 21 players looking to claim a start in the first eleven, competition will be hard but that can only be good for the team.