Nottingham Forest Women 1-1 Watford Ladies (Friendly) 08.08.21
Andy Cook’s Nottingham Forest Women battled to a hard-fought draw in their last, pre-season friendly, on Sunday afternoon, ahead of next Sunday’s National League North opener, against visitors Huddersfield Town Ladies.
Indebted to the goalkeeping prowess of Aja Aguirre, and some last-gasp challenges from Olivia Cook, the Garibaldi warmed up for next week’s opener with a tough, 1-1 draw, coming from behind, at the death, to earn a share of the spoils.
Battling the rain, as well as visitors Watford, both sides went back-and-forth in a first half that would see the sides’ jostling for the upper-hand.
It would take more than thirty minutes before Forest claimed their first, real opportunity of the game, Becky Anderson missing narrowly from the edge-of-the-box, and, moments later, Emily West did similar, the visiting ‘keeper saving well.
Not for the first time during the game, defender Olivia Cook would be seen to put in some last-ditch tackling to prevent the oncoming, Hornets attack, keeping the scores goalless at the break with a sliding tackle.
Early in the second period and LJ O’Neill came close to opening the scoring, delivering a back post volley that was kept out, whilst at the other end the visitors found their way past the Forest back line, only to find home ‘keeper, Aja Aguirre, in inspired form.
As many times before, the Garibaldi’s Canadian shot-stopper proved equal to the oncoming attack, this time pulling off a double-save to prevent what was a near-certain opener for the Hornets.
And again, Cook would come to the rescue, producing another, epic, slide tackle, to prevent the visitors getting through on goal.
Shortly after Coach Cook made a triple substitution for the hosts, Aguirre was called into action again, this time smothering a loose ball that was bouncing around the box; she couldn’t prevent the opener though, just.
With a little over twenty minutes remaining, Aguirre pulls off another, great save, however, the rebound falls unkindly for her, and kindly for the opposition, landing straight on the attackers head, who gratefully nods home for the opener.
As the game moved into the final ten minutes, in-fact it was nudging towards the closing five, Cook made a last-gasp, double substitution, bringing on Laura Dexter, and more importantly, Charlotte Steggles, the latter popping up to grab the equaliser.
The last minute of the game, and with the visitors seemingly having edged the contest, first Anderson came close to levelling but to no avail, however, and with a late free-kick awarded the hosts, the delivery was inch perfect for Steggles, who heads home, much to the delight of all in Red, on, and off, the field.
And now it’s onto the season opener, at home to Huddersfield Town Ladies, on Sunday 15 August.
Forest: Aja Aguirre, Charlotte Greengrass, Lyndsey Harkin, Olivia Cook (Laura Dexter 84), Laura-Jayne O’Neill, Becky Anderson, Amy West (Naomi Powell 64), Sophie Bramford (Mai Moncaster 64), Katie Middleton (Sophie Tudor 64), Rachel Brown (Charlotte Steggles 84), Freya Thomas.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFCWomen next up for Forest is the return to league action.