When the league fixtures came out for the new season, the prospect of playing a true derby game stood out from all the other games.
Railway Reserves play their home matches at King James School and Town play just the other side of Wetherby Road…just under 500m apart. To put this into context, this is a third of the distance between Anfield and Goodison Park.
The players from both teams know each other so well and this added to the excitement around the upcoming 90 minutes.
It also coincided with the launch of our new away kit, sponsored by Ilke Homes and the team had been at Manse Lane early to get team photos taken; all adding to the sense of occasion.
Anyone who follows football, knows that derby games usually are the most difficult to predict, given that there is local pride to play for and this just adds to the competitive edge during these matches.
The game at Manse Lane was no different.
Knaresborough got off to a good start, scoring first in the fourth minute when Lorna Wilkinson took the ball around Railway’s keeper to make it 1-0.
The Rail players had come to play and during early sparring, both teams attempted to impose their authority on the game. Railway were regularly getting into Boro’s half and carving out a few half-chances, but it was Town that posed the greater threat in the penalty box.
Vicky Beaty, Rail’s stopper was in fine form as she pulled off a wonderful double save to deny Lydia Corner in the tenth minute.
A minute later, a hurried clearance by Harrogate Railway’s defence resulted in Emma Swales taking the full force of the ball to the face.
The Railway player went down and there was quite a bit of concern about how injured she was. After a few minutes, Emma was helped off the pitch and Railway had to make an early substitution.
The game restarted and 15 minutes in, Town increased their lead as Lorna bagged her second of the game when she went through one-on-one with the keeper, slotting home to the right side of the goal. 2-0.
The battle for midfield supremacy continued over the next ten minutes. Railway had come with a plan to attack and were doing just that. They hadn’t managed to trouble Boro’s keeper Ella Ritchie at that point, but they were posing questions of the home-team’s defence.
When Knaresborough attacked, they did so at pace and with real purpose.
Lorna was enjoying the game, had settled into the rhythm of the play well and it wasn’t a surprise to see her score with a header to complete her hattrick from a corner by Rachel Carmichael in the 25th minute. 3-0.
It didn’t take long for Town to get their fourth. Five minutes later, a wonderful chip-finish from Grace Adams meant that the home team were four goals to the good. 4-0.
Lorna wasn’t finished and just over a minute later, a shot from inside the box to the keeper’s left took her personal tally to four and the home team's total to 5-0.
The 35th minute saw a debut for Polly Asquith-Brown, a great addition to our squad and someone we’re really looking forward to seeing playing for us over the remainder of the season.
Rachel Carmichael was having a fantastic game, working hard in midfield and a lot of the play was flowing through her.
A free kick for handball in the 37th minute was taken by Rachel, but unfortunately the resultant play didn’t end in a goal, but she wasn’t going to be denied in this game.
Railway then had their best chance of the half, putting the ball narrowly past the post.
Town moved the play quickly up the field from the goal kick, the ball reached the feet of Rachel in the middle of the pitch, outside of the Harrogate penalty box; she controlled it, looked up to see the keeper off her line, and fired in an exquisite shot that saw the ball clear the Rail stopper and dip below the bar.
There was no chance of saving the goal-bound strike and the keeper was left rooted to the floor. This was the goal of the game in the 40th minute to make it 6-0.
On the stroke of half time Lucy Taylor met a cross in a crowded penalty box from a Rachel Carmichael corner to force the ball over the line and make it 7-0.
The half time whistle blew, and Knaresborough Town had an insurmountable lead in this game without really hitting top form.
The light was fading, and the misty conditions were adding to the atmosphere around the game as the second 45 neared.
The second half got underway, and Eva Jenkins raced out of the blocks to score in the 48th minute and make it 8-0.
Eight minutes into the second half and a moment of controversy. As a Knaresborough Town attack developed, one of the Railway defenders went down away from the play; the referee didn’t blow his whistle to stop the game and the ball reached Grace Adams, who finished with a magnificent shot from the edge of the penalty box to make it 9-0.
As the player received treatment, the Harrogate Railway players spoke to the referee, but the goal stood and unfortunately the defender had to be helped off the pitch and substituted.
As the lights were switched on to counter the darkening skies and misty conditions, the remainder of the game was a close affair. Railway continued to attack when they could and Boro’ spurned a number of glorious chances to increase their lead to double figures.
The final whistle blew, and Knaresborough Town extended the winning start to their first ever league campaign, remaining top of the West Riding County Women’s Football League Division 4 on goal difference – but with games in hand on their closest rivals. 9-0.
Lorna Wilkinson had an outstanding game having bagged four goals and her general play must have made the choice of player of the match extremely difficult for our match sponsor, Ilke Homes.
Credit, where credit is due; both newly formed teams wanted to win this game and gave everything. Railway came to play, not defend and on another day, may well have scored. Both teams are adapting to the league and showing that there is so much more potential in their play.
We look forward to the return fixture at King James later this season and wish Railway all the best in their other fixtures.
POTM as chosen by Rachel Beech of Ilke Homes: Rachel Carmichael; Goal of the game: Rachel Carmichael.
Goal scorers: Lorna Wilkinson 4; Grace Adams 2; Eva Jenkins 1; Rachel Carmichael 1; Lucy Taylor 1.
Referee: A De Marco.
Match report by Connor Doherty.