On Sunday we saw the return of FA Women’s National League action at the Mitton Group Stadium in Eccleshill as Bradford City took on Newcastle United, with it being the first home league game for Bradford since September 2021 and Newcastle sitting second in the league at the start of the day on a good run of form it was always bound to be an interesting game and it certainly didn’t disappoint, except for the final score for us Bradford City fans.
The game started off with quite a few throw-ins to each side as the ball spent a lot of time out on the wings however, nothing would really happen until the 6th minute when Newcastle took the lead, City ‘keeper Richards came out to collect from a corner but was unable to clear the ball and the ball fell to the head of Newcastle’s Robson who headed home from close range. Not long after the goal Bradford found themselves playing with 10 on the field as Katy Woodcock found herself in the sin bin, City held on though and kept up a strong performance even with a player down for 10 minutes.
Throughout the whole first half Newcastle looked the stronger of the sides and kept on pushing for that second goal but they just couldn’t find the back of the net. They had a lot of chances on goal however, City’s Stuart was there to clear the Bradford lines a fair few times and when she wasn’t ‘keeper Richards was making some great saves to deny Newcastle a further lead. The teams went into half time with Newcastle winning 0-1 which in all honesty could have been a whole lot more but City were doing well to keep the scoreline looking reasonable at the break.
Whilst the first half was a very one-sided affair the second half started off well for Bradford City. Straight from kick-off they went on the attack and gained a free kick in a dangerous area, the resulting goal for Knight saw Bradford draw level in the 46th minute. It really looked hopeful that Bradford could put up a fight and stay in the game but then the run of play changed once again. Around the 50th minute Newcastle really started to find their feet again and picked up their attacking pace once more and in the 53rd minute Newcastle took the lead once again, City ‘keeper Richards originally got her hand to the ball to make the initial save however, the ball fell to the feet on Newcastle’s Barker who slotted it home to gain the lead.
The 56th minute saw Newcastle take the lead even further with an absolutely brilliant goal, which there was no stopping. The strike was rifled home from around 30 yards by Newcastle’s Guy and there was absolutely no chance of it being saved especially with the bit of a swerve it had on whilst heading towards goal.
City picked up pace a little bit after the 3rd goal and started linking some great passes together but in the 71st minute, Barker picked up her second goal of the game and extended Newcastle’s lead to 1-4 with a brilliant volley that made its way into the back of the net. It didn’t take long for Barker to pick up her hat-trick as her shot in the 75th minute bounced over the line after hitting the bar.
Even though Newcastle were 1-5 up they still kept pushing to increase their lead but some strong defending from City and some brilliant goalkeeping from Richards kept them at bay until the 90th minute where Newcastle ended the game with one last goal, this time from Ferguson who broke through defence and took the ball around Richards to end the game 1-6 to Newcastle.
Looking back on the game it is safe to say Newcastle are a fantastic team who have the potential to remain top of the league for the remainder of the season as they are a very strong side and move the ball around the pitch well. At the same time though City had spells where they played well especially in the first half when they kept Newcastle’s lead to just 0-1 when it could have easily been more, plus at times they moved the ball well around the pitch. Sometimes though they just looked defeated and like they had lost all hope even with the scoreline still in an achievable comeback range.
There were some positive takeaways from the game though with Woodcock having a pretty good game in defence despite the scoreline alongside Shepherd who also made plenty of crucial tackles throughout the 90 minutes. Richards also had a good game in goal making some brilliant saves to deny Newcastle plenty more goals and it is great seeing her confidence grow as the season progresses, she is definitely willing to go for the ball a lot more than at the start of the season.
Our player of the match though definitely has to be Charlotte Stuart once again. She covered plenty of the pitch winning some important challenges in the middle of the field and she made some very important challenges in the defence to stop Newcastle in the first half and she continued stepping up and making important challenges even whilst catching a few knocks in the process.
Newcastle definitely showed us how good of a side they are and fingers crossed Bradford can bounce back from the defeat in their next league game as they take on Durham Cestria away, fingers crossed we can walk away with some points from that game.
Photo: Colin Locke