Girls Thwarted Again
By jamie nelson
by David Nightingale
After overcoming the Sat Nav directions which took us to some other local playing fields we all finally gathered at the correct venue, the Bridgewater Primary School for this fixture against Berkampstead Raiders Youth sitting two places above Harvesters in the league. Tough opponents but certainly beatable for the girls who have played good football in the last few matches.
Team – Gwen, Alecia, Sophie, Mabel, Daisy, Sai, Charlotte, Meeka. As the parents gathered behind the perimeter rope with Lexi the club dog smuggled in a kit bag the game kicked off under the control of a young confident referee.
Blue v Yellow. Playing 8 a-side due to Easter holiday availability, Harvesters adopted a familiar no subs policy. Unlike their opponents who appeared to have almost too many subs judging by the frequency that the blues coach was bringing players on and off pitch. I guess it gave our 8 girls a little breather. Any attempts by the girls to slow down play by tying their laces were ignored by the referee who kept playing on except at one stage when he stopped to do his own laces!
Our girls had most of the early possession, with a clear intent to play a passing game from the back, this tactic was working well and any incomplete passes often resulting in throw-ins in our favour keeping momentum and retained possession. This early promise was mixed in with the familiar occasional kicking the ball away in panic giving an edge to the match that the momentum could switch at any moment. And it did when Berko busted through the defensive line for a 1 on 1 with Gwen, which was saved.
Sai and Charlotte were combining well on the right side, Sophie anticipating well in the centre defence position, Mabel backtracking well and covering, managing to hold off the threat of their no. 13 – a powerfully built girl upfront.
After some sustained pressure, Charlotte unleashed a powerful shot to take the lead 1-0 well deserved for her stand out performance. Charlotte fired up for this match comes close to her second goal with another close chance.
The ref who kept the game flowing with his encouraging style promoting well taken throw-ins rather than penalising the girls had his training credentials fully tested when the oppo coach walked onto the pitch requesting the game be stopped – was this some sort of match tactic having gone a goal behind? No - the stoppage was in fact to enforce the no dog rule set by the school – the stowaways x2 had been spotted, the cunning plans had been rumbled and the guilty were sent on their way. Lexi avid supporter still managed to watch hidden in the woods behind the goal, what cunning schemes would the dog lovers dream up next?
Back to the action. Harvesters attacking and forcing the oppo into mistakes and winning the throw- ins – Berko dangerous on the counter with plenty of pace up front.
Sai, Meeka, Charlotte – a key attacking axis all match, Charlotte with her predator instincts has a shot blocked and another to win a corner. At the other end Alecia fearless covering to rescue many dangerous attacks
Berko attack down the left side and a stab cross finds its way inside Gwen’s near post to level the scores, a soft goal conceded against the run of play which judging by the blues muted emotions they knew was fortunate 1-1
Both teams have their chances – end to end. Harvester’s corner, Meeka pokes a shot, saved. Berko had their chances too including a chance following a mix up between the defence and Gwen which luckily was shot wide and another effort where the ball skied towards our goal, which as Gwen flaps, the ball drops onto the cross bar rebounds to Berko who shoot wide – another lucky escape
Charlotte stand out player in the first half with a long range shot just wide, Half time oranges 1-1
2nd Half. Berko had more chances with their no. 3 shoots wide, a 1 on 1 which Gwen saved with her feet and another shot hit wide
Sai, Charlotte send Meeka 1 on 1 – keeper good position saves, another replica build up and Meeka round keeper on left but takes it too wide to get in a shot
Alecia resolute in defence sticks to the no. 9 pushes her wide and produces a crunching tackle. With both girls flattened the crowd could only applaud a great spectacle of two players totally committed to giving nothing away, unharmed both players picking themselves up back into the action.
Pressure mounts on the girls with Gwen now struggling to clear her lines effectively, putting the defence under strain, gifting a chance to their no. 9 who luckily shoots wide, the next gift was taken all too easily to give Berko the lead – another soft goal to concede. 2-1
Sai, Meeka combine, Meeka shoots saved, another through ball unlucky bounce on the hard pitch prevented her getting good control giving the keeper the edge to make the save, and the next effort was inching its way into the goal before being cleared off the line!
The girls pushed up Daisy finding more space searching for the equaliser, Sai ever present as the ref blew for full time
So disappointing for the girls to come away with no points after a really good performance. The game was there to win or at least draw.