Sharples strikes late as Batley Ladies bounce back with victory
Batley Ladies bounced back from their first defeat of the season to overcome Northallerton Seconds in the Yorkshire Hockey Association Division Four North West last Saturday.
The long trip saw Batley have an early start and they travelled with a few positional changes due to injury and last minute drop outs.
This saw Gemma Elsworth move from the left side of midfield to the right and she went on to excel in her new position and was able to showcase her skills down the wing from the start.
Elsworth laid on a cracking ball for Gail Culshaw to run onto and win Batley their first penalty corner of the game.
Unfortunately this didn’t amount to anything but Batley continued to press and had Northallerton on the back foot for long periods.
Mel Neal also dropped into defence for this game and showed her ability as a natural defender.
On the rare occasion Northallerton attacked they couldn’t find a way through as Neal was there to win the ball before sending some great passes to the midfield for Kim Sharples to work her magic.
Sharples is one of the best players in the team and her skills with the ball mesmerized the Northallerton defence at times.
Batley spent the majority of the first half attacking as they forced a staggering seven penalty corners but were unable to break the deadlock as it remained scoreless at half-time.
Culshaw and Sharples both had shots cleared off the line before Batley realised they needed to re-think their tactics at corners.
The final penalty corner of the second half saw a ball slipped to Sarah Fretwell on the right of the circle and she played a lovely ball back towards Rach Stewart but she hit the ball wide as it remained 0-0.
Batley continued to press in the second half with some great passing between Jo Forbes and Ash Hallas setting the visitors away on an early attack.
They won yet another penalty corner only for that chance to take the lead to also go begging.
Batley were getting increasingly frustrated as the game went on and Northallerton had a couple of great opportunities to capitalise on their misfortunes.
Some cracking defensive work by Vicky Almond, who had dropped into defence for this game, saved them.
With five minutes to go Elsworth slipped a delightful pass to Fretwell and she in turn found Kim Sharples hovering just outside the circle.
Some great stick work saw Sharples round two defenders and chipped the ball into the net to finally break Northallerton’s resolve.
The last few minutes consisted of more attacking play from Batley and yet another failed penalty corner — their 11th of the match.
The whistle blew and the team sighed with relief after a rather frustrating game for Batley.
Despite their missed opportunities, Batley ground out victory which sees them move up to third place in the table, level on 61 points with Pudsey and three behind leaders Horsforth after five matches.
Player of the match went to the outstanding Kim Sharples and Batley host lowly Harrogate this week.