Birkenhead Panthers 17, Barnsley Ladies 17
There was nothing to choose between these two unbeaten teams in a match that went ahead only after a late pitch inspection and honours were duly shared at the end of an intriguing encounter which swung first one way and then the other throughout.
Birkenhead went into the fixture two points clear of Barnsley at the top of the table only because they had played one game more, and it was apparent from the first whistle that both teams were evenly matched.
Barnsley did have the upper hand early on but Birkenhead’s defence held firm until the 35th minute when winger Fran Copley managed to break through to score am unconverted try in the corner.
However, within a couple of minutes Birkenhead had taken the lead with a converted try after the Barnsley defence seemed to switch off, allowing the Panthers’ full back to run straight through.
With the last play of the first half Barnsley regained the lead with second try from Copley, who again broke down the wing and scored in the corner. As on the previous occasion the conversion attempt failed.
Straight from the restart it was Birkenhead’s turn to go in front after a couple of phases of play put them close to the Barnsley try line. Although it looked like the Barnsley defence had held the ball up the referee awarded a try, which was not converted.
Barnsley battled back to put pressure on the home team and they were awarded a try when Jess Roberts picked up and dived over just when the Birkenhead defence looked to be holding firm.
Captain Alix Taylor converted the kick to give Barnsley a five point lead with 23 minutes remaining.
Both teams tried to gain the upper hand but cancelled each other out until there were less than a couple of minutes to go, when Birkenhead were given a penalty advantage which seemed to go on for ever.
It looked like the ball was knocked on but play continued and the home team managed to force their way over the line to score, leaving the points level.
They had a chance to snatch victory with the conversion, but the acute angle proved too much and the attempt failed.
The draw was a fair result, leaving both sides still unbeaten. The return match in February should be a cracker and will probably determine who wins the league.
Barnsley’s next match is at home next week in the second round of the Intermediate Cup against Didsbury Toc H who are a league below Barnsley but are also unbeaten in their league and averaging 69 points per game.
- Photograph shows the teams lining up for a minute’s silence before the game.