His first taste of leading Nottingham Forest Ladies might have ended in disappointment, but new manager Paul Cudby claims to have seen enough positive signs in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Bradford City to convince him that better times lie ahead.
Forest opened brightly enough with an early midfield battle going in favour of the away side. Conroy was particularly eminent for Forest to gain possession, but Bradford benefited from misplaced passes by the Reds and general poor distribution.
The Bantams broke the deadlock after pressure on the Forest back line and were quicker in collecting a loose ball, allowing Bradford’s Becky Kendell to slot home after 14 minutes.
Forest rallied with efforts from Howard and Hughes ,but Bradford were buoyed by their early success and were quick to clear subsequent attacks.
The hosts doubled their lead through Sarah Danby on 39 minutes after she latched onto a through ball and fired past keeper Kinnerley.
Hughes and McKechnie nearly clawed back just before half-time, but Hughes was denied as the keeper tipped over the crossbar.
A spirited Forest returned to dominate overall proceedings in the second half with substitute Reanne Thomas orchestrating some key opportunities for the forward line.
And the Reds were rewarded ten minutes from time after a loose ball found Hughes, who struck a powerful shot to reduce the deficit.
Forest applied full pressure from all areas in the time that remained, but City remained resolute in defence to deny the visitors.
“While it is disappointing to start with a defeat, you can learn a great deal about the character of a group in adversity, and that character will certainly be tested next week to the maximum against Leeds,” said a reflective Cudby.
“Despite everyone’s best efforts in preparing for the game, there was visible instability in terms of performance, but it’s important that we focus on what we can control and influence as a group.
“That now is our response, I’m sure it will be a positive one.”
Director of football Lisa Dawkins added: “The first team Squad and management team are currently going through an unexpected period of transition, but I have complete confidence that there will be a positive reaction by all to the disappointing result on Sunday and the lessons learned from the below-par performance.
“It was simply a bad day at the office and some times it is better to move on and bounce back than to pick the bones out of what went wrong.”
Line Up: Kinnerley, O’Neil, Kennaugh, Clarke, Hollingsworth, Smith (60) Conroy (73), Greaves, Hughes (83) McKechnie, Howard (58). Subs: Meade (73), Thompson (58), Thomas (60), Allen (unused).