The Port Vale Ladies began their league campaign with a defeat, losing 4-2 to Telford United on Sunday, although they gave an excellent account of themselves with a brave performance against one of the league’s top sides.
Vale went into the game in good form after breezing through two rounds of the FA Cup, but Telford proved to be more clinical in front of goal despite neither side dominating at the Dimensions Sports Facility.
After a scrappy start to the game, Telford took the lead just after the half hour mark, with the striker lobbing Ellie Walchester in the Vale goal after the defence failed to clear their lines (33).
Telford almost made it two just before half-time, but some excellent defending from Sarah Kerfoot kept Vale in it, clearing off the line when the ball seemed destined for the bottom corner.
Vale headed into the break 1-0 down but came out strongly in the second half. A ball through the middle following a nice move in midfield almost paid off, but the Telford keeper got to the ball just before Liberty Windsor could reach it.
Telford threatened again after that and tested Walchester from distance (54), but the Vale keeper got down smartly to push the ball away from danger.
Three minutes later Telford doubled their lead. The winger got to the by-line and whipped in a low ball and the striker pounced just in front of Walchester to poke the ball in from a couple of yards.
That seemed to spark the Vale players into life. After a sustained period of pressure, they got their reward on 65 minutes. A corner from the left bounced around in the area before falling to Gina Wilkie, who tapped in her second goal in as many games to get Vale back into it.
However, just three minutes later, Telford regained their two-goal advantage. Vale failed to deal with another cross and the ball fell to the Telford striker a yard from goal, who belted it in just to make sure it crossed the line.
Two minutes later Telford put the result beyond doubt with an absolute peach of a goal. Walchester could do nothing about the dipping strike from 40 yards out as it sailed past her despairing dive.
Vale did reduce the deficit on 75 minutes, with Kerfoot smashing a brilliantly controlled shot on the half-volley past the Telford keeper following another corner, but there were no more clear-cut chances and the game finished 4-2.
After the game, Dave Wright, co-manager of the Ladies’ First Team, reflected on the performance.
“We knew today was going to be a difficult game coming into it,” Dave said. “To be fair, the girls have done really well. The goals scored against us, all of them were long distance or difficult to defend against. More than anything, we’ve just struggled in the final third to find a bit of creativity early on. Take nothing away from Telford, they are definitely a good team, no doubt one of the best teams that we’re going to play this season.”
The attention now turns to the Ladies’ next game, a Potteries derby, and Dave’s hoping to bounce back and get points on the board.
“We’ve got Stoke City next, that again is going to be a tough challenge. They’re going to be among the top few teams in the league as with Telford. We’ve definitely got a tough run at the start of the season, but we will give Stoke City a good run for their money next week.”
You can support the Ladies next week for FREE. Kick-off is at 2pm and the venue is to be confirmed. For updates, follow the Port Vale Ladies on Twitter: @PVFCLadies