Premier League South West Division One

A TREMENDOUS second-half performance saw Argyle Ladies see off the league leaders in front of 111 fans. Both teams went into the game protecting 100% winning records with all eyes on the league’s top scorers Natasha Knapman and Keynsham’s Kerry Bartlett. What the result did show was that it is not just about Knapman, as this was a terrific all-round performance.

Manager Travis Rowland had to make changes before the start when both Amber Pollock and Mollie Taylor were found to be carrying knocks. Without central defender Ebony Dover who is recovering from a nose operation, Rowland moved left back Phoebe Baker to a central defender role and she didn’t let the team down.

The first half was a strange affair; Argyle looked good in the opening 20 minutes and deservedly took the lead when Knapman and Zoe Cunningham worked the perfect third-man running routine, which left Kayley Lane racing in to fire the ball past the visiting custodian. Argyle then seemed to go off the boil with passes going astray and wrong decisions being made. This was to be their undoing, as five minutes before half time, Katie Cook fired across goalkeeper Michaela Phillips for the leveller.

Needless to say, the air was blue during the half-time break with the normally placid Rowland telling the girls in no uncertain terms what he thought of the first-half performance. The girls certainly took on board his comments as, for most of the second half, they tore into their very experienced visitors.

Argyle attacked from the start but couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Keynsham defence. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Rowland replaced Ezme Wells with Tori Marks who made an immediate impact with some darting runs. It was only a matter of time for Argyle to regain the lead and, on the hour, captain Kate Middleton rose the highest to head in a Becky Dandridge corner.

The Pilgrims kept up the pressure but, four minutes later, all their good work seemed to have been undone when Keynsham drew level again through Bartlett fired into the corner of the net.

Argyle swiftly regained the lead when Lane took a quick throw-in to Baker who, just a few yards in from the touchline, looked up and launched the ball high into the net. Two minutes later, Dani Barr came on for Becky Atkins and almost immediately after that the predatory instincts of Knapman was in evidence when she followed up a Cunningham free-kick to force the parried shot over the line.

The final goal was a bizarre one as five minutes from time Lane raced clear but her weak shot was stopped by the goalkeeper who then promptly passed the ball back into Lane’s path for her to roll the ball into an empty net.

“I told them exactly what I thought of their performance at half time,” said Rowland. “We weren’t doing the basics right as well as not tracking back. It was all about communication which we didn’t have. We had a good crowd there and we were letting them down.

“Credit to the girls, they took it on board and deserved the win. We have played five demanding games in a row, which has stretched us physically and mentally, so we have to put this result in perspective. We now have to look on that second-half performance and build on it.”

Argyle Squad: Michaela Phillips, Darcey Hepworth, Phoebe Baker, Kate Middleton, Becky Atkins (Dani Barr), Kayley Lane, Ezme Wells (Tori Marks), Becky Dandridge (Kayleigh Brown) Natasha Knapman, Zoe Cunningham, Jessie Boston.

Goals: Kaylee Lane 2, Phoebe Baker, Kate Middleton, Natasha Knapman.

Next up is a home SSE FA Cup First Round tie against Basingstoke Town and it will be free entry for kids.

You may also like