Match Report – Plymouth Argyle Ladies vs Keynsham Town Ladies

A tremendous second half performance saw Argyle Ladies see off the league leaders in front of 111 fans.
Both teams went into the game protecting 100% winning records with eyes especially on the leagues top scorers Natasha Knapman and Keynsham’s Kerry Bartlett.
What the result did show was that it is not just about Knapman as this was a terrific all round performance.
Manager Travis Rowland had to make changes before the start when both Amber Pollock and Mollie Taylor were found to be carrying knocks. Without central defender Ebony Dover who is recovering from a nose operation, Rowland moved left back Phoebe Baker to a central defender role and she didn’t let the team down with Rowland saying: ‘She has never played there before for us and she did a superb job against a dynamic forward line.’
The first half was a strange affair as Argyle looked good in the opening twenty minutes and deservedly took the lead when Knapman and Zoe Cunningham worked the perfect third man running routine which left Kayley Lane racing in to fire the ball past the visitors goalkeeper.
Argyle then seemed to go off the boil with passes going astray and wrong decisions being made. This was to be their undoing as five minutes before half time Argyles defence allowed Keynsham to play a triangle which left Katie Cook to fire across goalkeeper Michaela Phillips into the far corner of the net.
Needless to say the air was blue during the half time break with the normally placid Rowland telling the girls in no uncertain terms what he thought of the first half performance.
The girls certainly took on board his comments as for most of the second half they tore into their very experienced visitors.
Argyle attacked from the start but couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Keynsham defence.
Ten minutes into the second half Rowlands replaced Ezme Wells with Tori Marks who made an immediate impact with some darting runs.
It was only a matter of time befor Argyle regained the lead as just after the hour mark captain Kate Middleton rose the highest to head in a Becky Dandridge corner.  The looping header was flapped at by the goalkeeper who had come under pressure from Becky Aitkins before the ball dropped into the net.
Argyle kept up the pressure, but four minutes later all their good work seemed to have been undone when Keynsham drew level when their top scorer Kerry Bartlett fired into the corner of the net.
Undaunted Argyle didn’t panic and quickly regained the lead within four minutes after Kaylee Lane took a quick throw in to Baker who just a few yards in from the touchline looked up and launched the ball high into the net.
Two minutes later Dani Barr came on for Becky Atkins and almost immediately after that the predatory instincts of Knapman was in evidence when she followed up a Cunningham free kick to force the parried shot over the line.
Kayleigh Brown became the final substitution when she came on for Becky Dandridge.
Knapman then had a great shot saved which Lane followed up by blasting the ball wide although she was given off side.
The final goal was a bizarre one as five minutes from time Lane raced clear but her weak shot was stopped by the goalkeeper who then promptly passed the ball back into Lane’s path for her to roll the ball into an empty net.
A relieved Rowland said after the match: ‘I told them exactly what I thought of their performance at half time.  I felt we weren’t doing the basics right as well as not tracking back. It was all about communication which we didn’t have.  I told them we had a good crowd watching and we were letting them down. But credit to the girls, they took it on board and deserved the win.’  Adding: ‘It is important to note that we have played five demanding games in a row which has stretched us physically and mentally so we have to put this result in perspective. We now have to look on that second half performance and build on it.’
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