By Chris Routledge
Falone Sumaili put in a match winning display up front to take the points in a hard fought game with Durham Cestria on the opening day of the season.
City manager Steve Winterburn had brought in a few new faces and promoted some players from last season’s junior section, so there was a new look to the line-up and spirits were high.
Durham had won their respective league last year winning every league game and their league cup to gain promotion to The National League so City were expecting a hard game.
The pitch at Eccleshill United was in fantastic condition and following the usual photographs and handshakes we were off for the season opener.
Durham soon showed why they had done so well last season as they had the majority of the ball in the early stages. City were defending as a team though and City striker Sumaili playing on the shoulders of the Durham defence had a couple of half chances in the early stages then made the most of a through ball to lift the ball over the Durham keeper for the opening goal after 22 minutes, great start to the season. The great start got even better 4 minutes later when Sumaili got free again and doubled her tally with a similar effort.
Half Time - Bradford City 2 - 0 Durham Cestria
The second half was played mainly in the middle third, Durham were probing for a breakthrough but captain Zoe Roberts was marshalling the City defence well and City keeper Aimee Routledge was mopping up behind. The pace of Sumaili proved telling again in the 76th minute as substitute Amelia White pressured the Durham defence into a sloppy back pass and she was onto it like a flash to tap the ball into an empty net for her first hat trick of the season.
Durham never gave up though and on 85 minutes they scored from a well taken free kick from 25 yards out and then a second with a powerful strike after City failed to clear a corner. City held on though for their first win of the season and a valuable 3 points.
Full Time - Bradford City 3 - 2 Durham Cestria
Winterburn was full of praise for his side after their first league victory in over a year. He said: "I'm absolutely delighted to get the season started with 3 points against a very organised and talented young Durham squad.
"We knew today would be a tricky game to open the season, and Durham certainly made us work hard to secure the win. In tricky conditions and a swirling wind we found ourselves three nil to the good. But I think it would be fair to say that at that stage the score line definitely didn't fairly reflect the standard of the opposition. And sure enough as we got closer to that final whistle we struggled to stay focused and a three nil lead became a precarious 3-2.
"However the the girls had the grit to see the game out, securing our first win in over a season.
"A huge well done to every one of the squad, who dug deep and have taken the first step towards what we hope will be a new beginning for this club.
"I'd also like to give a special mention to our centre forward Falone. A hat-trick today and thoroughly deserved. A player who hasn't always received her deserved plaudits in the past has shown again today her ability and talent."