The match was played at the new Middlesbrough Sports Village, which will host all Grangetown’s home Prem2 games, and in amongst the crowd was the British Darts Organisation world ranked no.1 player Glen Durrant, who is originally from Grangetown.
The home side included Ria Small and Marie Ewing, both of whom were members of last season’s Team Northumbria Super League squad, and Gemma Sole, who scored more than a hundred goals during Scotland’s recent World Cup campaign in Australia. The visitors had travelled up from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire the previous day and were playing their first game in Prem 2, having been promoted as champions from the third division.
Grangetown had slightly the better of the early exchanges, during which they opened up a two-goal lead. Under pressure from a strong, uncompromising defence, Faye Summerhill and Kate Williams shared the goals during that period, but at the other end of the court, the Ryland shooters also looked equally assured.
At 11-9, the difference had been two outstanding turnovers by Grangetown captain Vicky Rees, however the balance of the game swung very much in favour of the visitors with a run of eight unanswered goals either side of the end of the first quarter to give Ryland what would be a decisive lead. Ryland’s spell of dominance was typified by excellent shooting and one piece of good fortune when the goal keeper got a hand to a Grangetown pass, deflecting the ball onto the post and straight back into her arms to spark another attack.
For their part Grangetown had their fair share of the ball, with Jenny Mrozik, Jill Reah and Vicky Rees all claiming excellent interceptions, but for the hosts, the second quarter was all too often a story of wasted possession and missed opportunities and Ryland led 17-24 at half time.
Coach Linzi Filiata shuffled her pack during the break, but Ryland maintained their advantage during the next fifteen minutes. There was an obvious sense of frustration as a number of calls from the umpires went against Grangetown, however the home side played well enough to reduce the arrears to just five goals at one point, before a number of errors handed Ryland possession and their more clinical finishing saw the Bromsgrove side re-establish their advance in that third quarter.
Throughout last season, Grangetown had demonstrated high levels of fitness and an ability to produce some memorable fightbacks during the final period For a time, it looked like the increasingly vociferous crowd might be treated to another thrilling finish as Grangetown battled to within four goals of the visitors. There was very real momentum with the home side, but one crucial call denied Grangetown possession; Ryland scored next and played well enough to put the game out of reach before another late rally left the sides separated by five goals at the final hooter.
It was an understandably disappointing result for the Grangetown players and coaching staff, but although they will rue the amount of lost possession and missed chances, the squad’s attitude was excellent throughout; they looked fit, and will undoubtedly improve for their first outing at their new home. For the division’s newcomers, it was a great result; Ryland were very mobile through the centre court, tough in defence and in goal shooter Kaya Wilson, they had the game’s most influential player.
“It was a hard match,” Kaya reflected afterwards. “We’d been in Prem 3 for three years and we knew all the other teams, but the games in Prem 2 are going to be much more of a challenge.
“Our goal attack is new to the club and this was the first time we’ve played together. It went well, although from a personal point of view today wasn’t one of my best performances. The two girls who played at goal keeper for Grangetown [Jenny Mrozik and Katie Walton] were really tough and quite physical. I actually thought they were a bit unlucky with some of the calls, but you often get that as a defender....
“Our ambition is to make it into Prem 1. We now know how strong this division is, but we’ll just keep training ,working as hard as we can, and try our best to go straight up.”
Club Man of the Match: Ria Small
My Man of the Match: Vicky Rees
Vicky Rees (capt)