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SSFC Women remain unbeaten despite late blow

A heartbreaking late equaliser cost a depleted South Shields Women squad the three points against Bradford City on Sunday.

Zoe Norton gave the lasses an early lead when she launched a looping effort above and past Tiffany Whelan, though the Bradford keeper got a hand to it which guided it in.

Shields were under the cosh for much of the game and were minutes away from picking up a valuable three points if not for a Kanisha Underdown free-kick.

Regardless, there were many positives to take into next week’s reverse fixture, including the team’s character and their ability to stick together when things aren’t as dominant as they would have liked.

As mentioned, a depleted team - made worse by long-term injuries to Meg Archbold and Eve Gatens in recent weeks - took to the Horsfall Stadium and gained a precious point on the road.

Special credit must be given to goalkeeper Scarlett Gowans, who kept the Mariners in the game time and time again and was a real contender for the player of the match award; Monica Innes was handed the accolade for her impressive defensive display.

The Bantams threatened from kick-off and came close to goal on a handful of occasions before going behind. Becki McMahon, Innes and Gowans all played their part across numerous chances to keep the scoreline level.

Unlike the hosts, Shields made their early chance count. Sophie Greener flicked the ball on after a spell of pressure following a throw-in lost Bradford possession, and Norton struck initially at Whelan, but she lost grip, and it sailed in.

Game management was the key after taking the lead and it felt like Shields continued to soak up the pressure Bradford offered fantastically, and they were unfortunate to concede the way they did.

A potentially soft free-kick was handed for a touch on Bradford's Aliyah Nolan, and Shields' Alliyah Ali was booked.

Gowans caught the resulting ball, but it unluckily fell to Underdown, who was waiting to pounce from the closest range.

In the circumstances the lasses will be more than pleased with a worthwhile point in Yorkshire.

Shields play host to Bradford in the reverse tie this Sunday - further details as to the ground will be shared on the club’s social media channels closer to matchday.

South Shields Women (numerical order): Gowans, Ali, Innes, Greener (Dryden), Dryden (Longstaff), Emery (Taylor), McMahon, Norton, Elliott-Wood, White, Foster. Subs: Dixon.

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