Sport

UKAF Women's Football Team Return With GB Police Draw

The match was the first action from UKAF Women in almost 450 days after the coronavirus pandemic halted competition.

The UK Armed Forces Women's football team returned to action on Thursday afternoon after almost 15 months away due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Karl Milgate's UKAF Women's team drew with a GB Police XI in Manchester at the home of Hyde United.

Kelly Aldridge's stunning opener for UKAF was cancelled out by Ellie Smith's equaliser.

UKAF were nearly in front inside five minutes.

A great pass through from Rachael Howes let dangerous striker Libby Dixon in behind but the former Middlesbrough player couldn't hit the target.

At the other end, Ali Smyth was proving to be a thorn in the side of the UKAF defence.

First, she wiggled through a defensive block to fire straight at the goalkeeper before, moments later, she led a counter-attack and rifled over from the edge of the box.

In the second half, Dixon won the ball from an unaware defender but her lobbed effort couldn't beat the GB Police goalkeeper.

Aldridge had no problems doing that in the 66th minute though.

She collected the ball on the edge of the box and turned onto her right foot before curling the ball past the helpless goalkeeper into the top corner.

It was a stunning goal and the team celebration showed how much it meant to the players after nearly 15 months away.

WATCH: Highlights of UKAF Women's return after 15 months against GB Police.

UKAF were not able to hold on to the win, though, as a lovely passing move gave GB Police a leveller.

A clever run from Smythe got in behind the UKAF defensive line and her square pass gave Smith a simple task of tapping in.

It was an equaliser that the Police deserved on the balance of play and a draw wasn't too disappointing for either team.

Vicky Ashton Jones, captain of the Police team, said: "I can't fault the efforts and the battling from either side any more than what it was.

"I think it was very much a fair result.

"It could have been nicked by either team towards the end but it was a great game, I imagine, for people to watch."

Milgate, who has now only had three matches in charge due to the pandemic, agreed, saying: "When you see a strike like that from Kelly Aldridge, you feel you deserve to win it.

"But it was probably a fair result in the end.

"They had momentum at the end and, to be fair, we were probably hanging on for the last five minutes.

"You could see there was a defensive structure we were trying to work to.

"Did we hit them on the break as much as we wanted to? Probably not.

"Was the quality in the final third the standard that the group have got? Probably not, and I think if we produce that part of the game today, we probably win the game."