Hartlepool United Ladies warmed up for a big FA Cup derby at Middlesbrough with a vital 3-2 North East Regional Women’s Football League win at South Shields.
Pools, who face Boro at Thornaby on Sunday, showed how effective they are on their travels by seeing off a Shields side, who finished second to them last season to be promoted to the NERWFL alongside them.
Shields set up in a 4-5-1 formation and with intent to play the long-ball system with a high press.
With Pools wanting to play football this caused one or two problems in the early stages.
And the home side went ahead a cross-cum-shot from the South Shields winger found its way into the bottom corner past an unsighted Jess Geoghan.
Pools, operating 4-4-2, stuck to their passing philosophy.
While they had the majority of possession, they didn’t manage to score until the 43rd minute.
The equalising goal was scored by Amy Cowan, who anticipated well a cross from the left and was in the right place to take advantage of a home error to smash the ball home from 10 yards out.
Pools went ahead in the 71st minute through Jussy Robinson, who scored in typical fashion. Running at the home defence, she left four players in her wake as she entered the penalty area to launch an unstoppable drive into the top corner.
This spurred Pools on who applied more pressure and it paid off when a corner for the left was not cleared and Sarah Rowbotham was on hand to net from 12 yards.
Shields scored a consolation from a last-minute corner, but Pools manager Andy Stuart was satisfied with the result.
He said: “It was a below-par performance that made this a tough game although we were able to get the win.
“But I have to be pleased with that because it keeps us in with a chance to win the league and promotion which is our number one objective.”
Pools: Jess Geoghan, Jen Duffy Smith, Faye Garside, Jo Hurrell (Jade Pye 46), Sarah Bartlett (Lottie Portas 46), Emily Stuart (Becs Smith 46), Amy Cowan, Jussy Robinson, Caitlin Bates, Sarah Rowbotham, Jess Dawson .Subs (not used): Hannah Lambert, Hayley Henderson