Peterborough Northern Star Ladies boss Steve Iredale hailed his team as ‘shining examples’ to younger female players for their commitment and effort after a 420-mile round journey to play Newcastle United Ladies in the Women’s Premier League Cup on Sunday (October 4).
Despite a final scoreline of 7-2 to the Geordies, Iredale preferred to take only positives from the game.
He said: “When the draw was made I had other managers saying to me ‘Surely you’re not going that far to play football, why don’t you just give them the game?’ and indeed looking through the results on Sunday from the competition there were a handful of games that had been marked down as ‘home’ wins and the distances involved were nowhere near as far as we travelled.
“But, our ladies thought differently. Despite us being short of some regulars due to injury or genuine work commitments, we rucked up at 8.30 on Sunday morning, boarded the minibus and drove for four and a half hours to Newcastle to play a team who are league above us, with a catchment area five times the size of Peterborough to draw on and a major university as well.”
Despite the long journey, Star had the dream start when after just six minutes Vicky Gallagher stunned both the home team and sizeable crowd by latching onto a long free-kick from Samara Iredale and lobbing the keeper from 20 yards out.
Stunned by the early insult Newcastle responded after 20 minutes with the equaliser and then while Star were temporarily down to 10 players while an injured player received treatment, Newcastle added two quick goals in a minute to take command of the game.
A fourth goal just before half-time really put the game out of the reach of the visitors but to their credit they refused to give up and despite Newcastle stretching their lead to 6-1 STar pulled a goal back.
That came from a quick move from forward Katie Steward, who left her full-back for dead before crossing for Gallagher to slot home. That made it 6-2 before tiredness allowed the home team a final goal to wrap up a 7-2 victory.
Iredale added: “When you consider that our league leaders Leicester City, who run three adult ladies teams, could only take 12 players for their game to Bradford then you understand the commitment that our ladies showed today.
“We knew it was going to be tough, a four-and-a-half hour journey before you play 90 minutes against higher opposition is not exactly ideal preparation but they did it without fuss.
“Afterwards both the Newcastle management and players were very complimentary about the way the players had performed. Maybe if it had been the other way round with Newcastle travelling to us then it might have been a different story. The main thing is we’re learning as we go along at this level.”
It’s another journey (but not quite as long) for Star this weekend as they travel to Middlesex to play Hampton and Richmond Ladies in the third qualifying round of the Women’s FA Cup.