Hull City Ladies earned a well-deserved point against Middlesbrough Women on the first game of the season as Ellie Tanser opened the scoring with a poached goal before Boro equalised through an acute finish from Libby Dixon.
It was 196 days since the Tigresses last competitive match and HCL nearly clinched all three points after Rebecca Beech hit the post in stoppage time, as first-team manager Adi Costello was delighted with the Tigresses attitude and the performance.
After coming into the first game of the Women’s National League on the back of two defeats, those defeats didn’t concern Costello.
Costello said: “If you think to pre-season and like I said in my interviews pre-season and to get to this point, win or lose in pre-season doesn’t matter it was about trying new things, playing players in different positions, trying new systems and exceptions of play and today it actually mattered.
Boro are a class unit, they are a really good side and I’m really pleased, away trip up to Boro one of the top teams in the league and come up here, from the fingertips of Rosie Todd and the width of the goal we would have won it at the death there but it was a great save.”
Hull City Ladies took the lead five minutes into the second-half after a well-worked corner routine. A short corner was then swung in by Symington, as the dangerous cross wasn’t cleared and Tanser fired home. Boro equalised just ten minutes later but the Tigresses pushed all game for a winner, as deep into stoppage time HCL nearly notched a winner.
As a great ball from Aaliyah Allen to Beech who turned the defender inside and out and produced a cracking shot which was brilliantly saved by Rosie Todd who tipped into onto the woodwork.
Costello said: “Massive belief from the girls that unlike when I took over if we would have gone 1-0/2-0 down that would have been it, but now there’s a massive belief in the girls that until the final whistle goes we can score as we saw there, we were pushing for that winner.
We were unlucky at the end but I thought we played well, bet you most people would have said Hull at home that would have been an easy game but we’ve shown people today that it won’t be easy and we’re going to fight and fight to the 90th minute and beyond that, if they add time on, played well today.”
Costello praised his backroom staff after the match. “This week we’ve done a lot of work on how they play, the boys (Tommy & Matty) put a package together on all there players and told me exactly what they do, where they play and sent me YouTube clips, so we’ve been watching Boro games from pre-season and we came up with a game plan today.
The analysts have done a really good job this week now they have put them under pressure as I now expect that every week,” said Costello.
Hull City Ladies had a plan against Middlesbrough and they executed well according to Costello.
“To play teams at this level you have to have the information and you have to understand what’s going to happen, what they’re going to do then you have to come up with a game plan and have a Plan B which we did, once we cut the width out we dominated.
We tried to out-think and outsmart them, our goal, we said they’re going to struggle at corners and we scored from a corner, in fact, we’ve looked dangerous from corners all year,” said Costello.
Costello also praised Middlesbrough after the close encounter at Bedford Terrace. “Middlesbrough will be a top-three side, on that performance they will be a top-three side if teams don’t do their homework against them they’ll get torn apart as they are very good at what they do.
Hull City Ladies now take on Sunderland Ladies at Haworth Park on Sunday 27th September then they take on Huddersfield Town Women three days later with free tickets for NHS staff.
“We’ve had a hard start to the season, Sunderland and Huddersfield but again who is going to be an easy game, we get a few of our suspended players back and that’s another bonus, we’re at that stage now that we’re saying to ourselves I’ve got 20 first teamer’s but can only have 18, I’ve got the dilemma of good players coming back and looking forward to that,” said Costello.
*Written by Alex Robinson
** Photograph by Kevin Greene, Kevin Green Photography