The Ladies lined up against their NW Regional league opponents with a strong wind driving fine rain and a very heavy pitch. Returning to the side for her first game of the season was experienced defender and former Penrith captain, Roni Duguid.
Penrith kicked off with the slope and wind advantage and enjoyed a lot of possession in the opening exchanges, however Newlaithes were defending well until the 9th minute when nobody pressured the ball outside the area and their forward drove the ball hard and low through a crowd of players into the bottom left-hand corner. The same pattern continued with Newlaithes going AWOL in midfield but still, chances were kept to a minimum for the home side, then on 20 minutes, Jess Nelson ran onto a loose ball 35 yards out and thumped it goalwards for the wind to catch it and send it sailing into the top right hand corner. A change of formation saw Newlaithes start to fight back and they were unlucky when a Paige Williams free kick from the right-hand side was tipped over by the Penrith keeper, just as the ball was dipping under the bar. Penrith had forced a number of corners during the first half which all-in-all had been defended reasonably well by Newlaithes but on 43 minutes, former Newlaithes striker Chez Brierley ran in to head home a corner from the right from close range. Half-time 3-0.
Despite the scoreline, the Newlaithes players were up for a fightback in the second half and took the game to the home side from the kick-off forcing several early corners but the good intentions were undone when a defensive mix-up left three Penrith players on-side for a long ball over the top and Brierley was on hand to blast home from close range with the goal at her mercy. Newlaithes continued to battle and got into some good positions but the rustiness from lack of games was evident as time after time, chances went begging. Then on 60 minutes Newlaithes were rewarded for their efforts when the industrious Emma Sisson battled her way into the left-hand side of the area and her shot was parried by the Penrith keeper into the path of Alice Simpson who slotted the ball into the open net. Unfortunately for Newlaithes, Simpson had to leave early for a pre-arranged function then left winger Chelsea Norris was forced to leave the pitch with a sore back that she had received when she fell awkwardly from a challenge. This took a lot of the pace from the team and although both teams continued to battle right until the end, the score remained 4-1 at the final whistle.
Newlaithes were far from disgraced - although the home side deserved the win, the scoreline probably flattered them as overall, Newlaithes created as many chances but they suffered from lack of match sharpness in front of goal. Fair to say that Penrith were more organised and composed in possession, particularly in the first-half and their quality finishing made all the difference but they certainly didn't take us apart and with better finishing from Newlaithes the score would have been a lot closer. Player of the match was Emma Sisson for the amount of ground that she covered but special mention also for Paige Williams who all too often was left to cover the entire central midfield on her own. Also the Newlaithes back four who apart from the goals conceded, looked solid throughout.
No game next week then the following week we have the re-arranged league cup semi-final at Blakelaw United.