NEW SIGNING Jamilla Palmer had a debut to remember as she scored twice in Stoke City Ladies' 4-2 victory over Newcastle United yesterday.
The former Wolves winger was joined on the scoresheet by Natasha Lilly and Laura Garside as the Potters got 2014 off to a winning start despite the treacherous conditions.
Both sides had to battle bravely on the boggy pitch with rain hammering down for large spells of the game.
City also had to come from behind twice to win, but were full value for their victory with the visiting goalkeeper pulling off numerous saves to keep the scoreline respectable.
It was Newcastle who had taken the lead with a lobbed strike over the helpless Emily Horton, before Lilly pounced on a rebound to equalise after her initial header was saved by the keeper.
Anne-Marie Atherton then put the ball into her own net to put the Magpies back into the lead, before parity was restored when Garside latched on to Palmer's through ball to round the keeper and slot home.
Stoke grew in confidence as the game progressed and Garside, Louise Roberts, Cassie Hyde and Chantelle Gallagher were all denied a potential winner by the impressive Newcastle stopper.
Continued pressure finally got its rewards though and Palmer drilled through a crowded box and into the bottom corner after picking up a flick on by Tash Tezgel.
She then put the game to bed with her second of the afternoon from twelve yards following good work from Gallagher on the wing.
The result sees the Potters rise to second in the table, four points behind leaders Sheffield but having played two games more.
Manager Andrew Frost was delighted with his side's showing, commenting, "It's very pleasing to see us win again and show the commitment that we did in the conditions.
"The first half was very scrappy and both teams found it difficult in the weather.
"We didn't really get going until after they got their second goal but after that there was only one team in it.
"Our girls showed their class then and their keeper pulled off numerous good saves.
"It was pleasing for 'Jam' to get the goals on her debut and you could see her grow into the game and get more confident as time passed.
"We've lost three players to other clubs but have brought her in and we still have a very strong squad."
Frost is now in sole-charge of the Ladies' first team after joint-manager Duncan Gilchrist stepped down due to other commitments. Gilchrist will continue to work as part of the backroom team for the future and has been praised for his commitment to the cause over the last few years.
"I'd like to give a big 'thank you' to Dunc for all of his hard work," added Frost.
"He's helped me to grow as a manager and he'll be truly missed on the touchline by everyone - all of the players and the other staff as well."
The Potters now turn their attentions to the FA Women's Cup, with an away game against The New Saints in the Second Round Proper on Sunday (kick off 1.00pm).