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Match Reports


17 March 2024

Match Reports


17 March 2024

Barnsley FC Women produced a confident and dominant second half display to claim all three points in their top of the table clash with Sunderland West End on the Oakwell AstroTurf.

A second half treble from Kirstie Nicholls grabbed the headlines as the Reds returned to winning ways in the league.

The Reds had started incredibly brightly, with a free-flowing attacking outlay ensuring they took the lead within the opening minutes. Barnsley number 9, Jodie Gregory responded to a back pass to the Sunderland West End goalkeeper, running into the box to dispossess the stopper, before composing herself and firing home into an empty net to put the Reds up one goal to the good.

They had a number of opportunities during the initial stages of the game to extend their lead following that early opener. In the eighth minute, a run down the right flank from wing-back Macy Lunn allowed her to find Gregory once more in the 18-yard box, however the forward was not able to head the pinpoint cross cleanly. Two minutes later, it was Barnsley's turn to defend their lead, with Stephanie Rigby requiring the support of Melissa Turton-Burrell to deal with the Sunderland West End high press, with Turton-Burrell producing an excellent slide tackle to deny the opposition an attacking opportunity. 

The Reds continued to dominate play as the half progressed. In the 24th minute, a Cheetham pass from the left wing to the right wing found Gregory, who laid off a weighted pass for Dawson, however her resultant half-volley deflected off an opposition defender for a corner kick. The following set-play found Cheetham once more at the back post, however she was only able to hit her responding effort over the bar.

Three minutes later, the visitors' number 11 produced a counter-attacking run from the left-hand side, surging forward before hitting a well-placed shot from twenty yards which forced a stunning save from Reds' 'keeper, Ashleigh Ridsdel-Harrison. This save proved pivotal in steadying Barnsley's resolve, as in the 34th minute, Gregory pounced upon a well delivered pass by substitute Alayna Millard, forcing the opposition goalkeeper to come out and attempt to clear the ball from her path. This attempted clearance only made it as far as Gregory's strike partner, Dawson, whose own drilled shot deflected off an ensuing defender and was promptly cleared.

Nine minutes later, Millard again produced an excellent cross into the box, finding Gregory, who produced a deft lay-off to Victoria Chincharo, who was only able to hit her close-range effort over the crossbar, ensuring that the Reds went into half time one up, but looking well-placed to extend their lead in the second 45'.

HALF TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Sunderland West End

As we entered the second half, Barnsley faced an immediate setback, as the visitors produced an equaliser. After 48 minutes, a defensive flurry ensured that an errant ball fell into the path of Sunderland's number 11 who delivered a well-hit shot which was able to beat Ridsdel-Harrison and level the scoring.

The Reds responded to this with a number of changes; Madison Foye - back from injury - replacing Chincharo and Kirstie Nicholls replacing Dawson to resume her strike partnership with Gregory for the majority of the half. And after a cagey 15 minute period where neither side threatened to break the deadlock, these changes appeared to pay dividends. In the 63rd minute, Nicholls produced a stunning attacking run from the right wing, bursting into the box and hitting home a rifled effort to restore Barnsley's lead.

The visitors again attempted to rally back from this, with Ridsdel-Harrison being forced into a excellent fingertip save from an attacking run virtually straight from kick-off. And the opposition were left to rue this missed chance just a minute later, when Jess Horsley's side extended the advantage to two. Reds midfielder Kim Brown produced a bursting run from the middle of the park, before delivering an exceptional through-ball into the path of Nicholls, whose initial shot was parried by the 'keeper, before being spilled into the Reds' substitute's path, allowing her to hit home her second and Barnsley's third goal of the afternoon.

The next 15 minutes once more appeared to pass without incident, with Barnsley's midfield duo of Brown and captain, Charley Evans digging in deep to win crucial midfield battles and prevent any opportunities for the opposition to gain further attacking joy. And it was this patience which produced the perfect chance for Barnsley to make it four. After 80 minutes, in an almost exact replica of her first goal of the afternoon, Nicholls picked up the ball on the right flank, and cut inside with a mazy run which saw off any potential defensive threat, before coolly slotting home to take home the match ball and secure all three points for a dominant Reds outfit.

FULL TIME: Barnsley 4-1 Sunderland West End

BARNSLEY: Ridsdel-Harrison, Wilson-Roberts (Cheetham, 51 - later substituted for Lunn, 87), Rigby, Turton-Burrell, Cheetham (Barraclough, 37), Lunn (Millard, 31), Evans, Brown (Chincharo, 87), Chincharo (Foye, 55), Gregory (Dawson, 87), Dawson (Nicholls, 55)

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