It was certainly a game of two halves in Sunday’s FA Women’s National League fixture between Morecambe Ladies and high-flying Barnsley FC Ladies.
It was the home side that started better and dictated much of the play in the opening 20 minutes.
Morecambe defended resolutely and created a series of good chances during the first 15 minutes, the best of which saw Yasmine Swarbrick glance a header just wide of the post from a pinpoint Hannah Paling corner.
The home side were rewarded for their persistence after 10 minutes when Swarbrick’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected past the goalkeeper into the corner of the goal to make it 1-0 to the Shrimps.
It was inevitable that this game would have more goals, and on 19 minutes it was Barnsley who struck when a speculative cross into the area hit the arm of Morecambe’s Lucy Coppard.
Advantage was played by the referee but Morecambe were slow to react and the ball bounced into the path of Amy Woodruff, whose shot was pushed away by Katie McTague, only for the ball to fall at the feet of Barnsley number 11 Darcie Greene, who slotted the ball home.
The momentum was firmly with the away team and in the 37th minute, profiting from a neat one-two through the Morecambe defence, Kathryn Smith started and finished the move with a coolly side-footed goal from eight yards out give Barnsley a 2-1 half time lead.
The second half saw Morecambe come out with a new found vigour.
A change in formation to deal with the speed and counter-attacking of Barnsley certainly seemed to work and suited the home side.
Their positivity quickly paid off when on 50 minutes a superb team move started with a quick pinpoint ball from Morecambe keeper, MacTague, who found Swarbrick close to the halfway line.
The ball was laid off to Robyn Hodkin who directed a forward pass into the feet of Katherine Oldfield.
Oldfield played it back to Emily Hutton who hit a first time ball over the top into the left hand channel for Jess Tait to run onto.
Tait, whose pace and strength had caused Barnsley countless problems all afternoon, was away from the defender down the left side and a perfectly weighted low cross from Tait found Swarbrick who netted into the bottom left hand corner to make it 2-2.
Suddenly, Barnsley looked tired and out of ideas and the home side capitalised on their dominance less than 10 minutes later when a high clearance by Melissa Brown was quickly brought under control by Carmel Daniel on the right wing.
A neat exchange of passes between Daniel and player of the match, Hannah Paling, saw Paling deliver a menacing cross into the box which was glanced on by Swarbrick.
Tait was the first to react and slid the ball home to give the Shrimps a 3-2 lead.
Barnsley hadn’t given up though as their 10 game unbeaten record was threatened and they began to find renewed energy as Morecambe struggled to maintain the tempo they had shown for much of the second half.
The last 15 minutes were tense and although Barnsley began to find more space and create more chances, Morecambe looked resolute in defence.
However, on 84 minutes, the Shrimps tried to clear the ball from a forward pass into the box but it was intercepted by Barnsley Drew Greene just outside the 18 yard line and she drove a low shot into the bottom corner to equalise.
Barnsley continued to press for a winner but it wasn’t to be, so 3-3 is how it finished.
When asked how he felt about the result, MLFC Manager, Dan Ross, said: “After turning it round in the second half with such a battling performance, conceding a late equaliser is hard to take.
“At the moment we feel deflated with a draw.
“It feels like a defeat to all of us.”
However, he said he couldn’t have asked for any more from his team after going in at half time 2-1 down.
“We lost our way through the first half, but we showed real character with that second half display.
“The players gave everything against a very good team that are full of confidence.
“In the end we know we’ve earned a good point, but we know we can play better than we did today.
“We are improving with every game now and it’s important that we keep doing that, so we’ll keep things in perspective, take the point and learn from it, and focus on our next game at Crewe.”