Harvesters Fall Victim to a Dirty Dozen
By jamie nelson
by David Nightingale
Chorleywood Away 16 Feb
A grey misty day, quite muddy underfoot. Chorleywood playing in their familiar black and white kit resembling old fashioned robbers – without the masks and swag bags!
Team - Gwen, Maisy, Issy, Mabel, Daisy, Jess, Meeka, Sai, Sophie, bench - Charlotte and Alecia
First fixture of the season against Chorleywood. Previous matches had all been high scoring close encounters. How would this match play out?
The match started with a promising attack from Chorleywood saved by an alert Gwen having received a high intensity warm up drill from Dad now part of the pre-match routine that we are used to seeing prior to kick off.
Some good defending and positional play by Izzy at the heart of the defence thwarted some early attacks. Mabel nice and accurate passing from back, good interplay between Jess, Meeka and Sophie combining well on the right. Meeka exploited the right flank in typical fashion with a number of great runs right into the heart of the defence but each time she pulled the ball back there was either not enough bodies in the box to get on the end of the cross or nobody could get a boot on it or couldn't quite control it to get in a shot. All very frustrating on the touchline for the away supporters and coach JN
Chorleywood on the other hand were clinical with their shooting and after taking an early lead settled into a rhythm which they maintained right through the match.
They also had a big number 6 at the back, a very much no fuss no nonsense type of player highly effective at blocking attacks and forceful clearances way over the touchline – it reminded some us of the John Smiths ‘have it’ advert !
The robbers nos. 9, 10 and 13 were a constant threat stalking the last line of defence, hovering right on the off-side line waiting to pounce on any mistake or to intercept a pass. With an abundance of fire power they were always going to score. To beat them you had to score more than them!
And the next goal was long coming after an unfortunate mix up between Izzy and Maisy, the ball squirts forward to the rushing Chorleywood striker who nets. The smallest of mistakes were being punished with ruthless efficiency.
The next was a high quality goal beginning with telepathic interplay between 9 and 13 crossed over and slammed into the net with a first-time shot – universal recognition from both teams’ supporters that it was a great goal… reminiscent of the Meeka – Millie goal the other week against Herts Reds. Today the girls were on the receiving end of a team who were fired up playing as if responding to a dressing down from their coach following a heavy loss the week before.
The best chances fell to Sai which was saved by the face of the Chorleywood keeper and Meeka who cut in from the right and struck just wide of the far post to the despairing cry’s from the touchline supporters
Chorleywood number 9 and lighting quickly no 13 up front made life very difficult for our defence on both flanks for Alesha and Mabel creating more chances, weaving around the defenders and around Gwen at one stage to pull back for a simple tap in.
We were really missing Millie’s attacking threat to elevate the pressure the girls were under
Half time 5-0 - The highest number of goals conceded at half time. All season even against the best team the girls have only been behind by 1 goal. On reflection Chorleywood’s shooting was very accurate – each time they either scored or forced Gwen to make a save, basically they hit the target each time
Were Chorleywood going to switch off?
In the second half Chorleywood maintained their control of the game winning the 50/50 tackles dominating the midfield and unleashing their attackers. Our girls were getting a toe in to a tackle but not using their bodies to be stronger into contact to actually come away with the ball. The net result was that it only served to slow down the robbers not breaking down the move and looking to counterattack which we did so well against Herts Reds
The Chorleywood no 10 was now growing in confidence and stature to boss the game and really took the game away from us dribbling through into the box to shoot herself powerfully or to pass to others now storming into the box to share in the goal fest. Rampant, relentless……
Our girls kept going with good tracking back from Sai, Charlotte had a really good shot saved by the keeper, Daisy kept running down the left but ran out of space and team mates to support. Our last chance was created by Charlotte with a clever long throw to Maisie alone upfront, not offside who did everything right to give herself space but struck the ball over the bar – it just wasn’t our day!
Having missed the early chances and without the attacking threat of Millie upfront the girls were always going to be struggling. Against a well drilled team with quality players you have to take your chances because these teams grow quickly in confidence if they get their noses in front
The girl’s first touch and control also let them down. A typical pattern for the girls was some good play stringing a couple of passes together but then either losing control of the ball or kicking the ball away more in hope for some luck rather than judgement
It’s not uncommon territory for Harvesters to play against superior technical teams and still win by playing a direct game at pace pushing forward, trusting each other building confidence and keeping the opposition in their own half.
Gwen certainly wasn’t throwing in the towel, in one passage of play she demonstrated her full commitment and bravery by producing a save at the feet of the onrushing no. 10 followed by a punch on the ground at full stretch, then back on her feet to tip the ball over the bar. One example of an all-round good game with accurate kicks and intelligent disruption to play the ball out from defence.
A double check with the referee confirmed goals conceded was 13 but later corrected to 12 - a consolation victory!
The harsh reality that at this level chances have to be taken, you go behind and allow quality teams to get into their stride you will be punished…..