Penalty Heart Break After Rip-Roaring Cup Classis
9 goals in 2 games from Evie, superb midfield performances from Quinny and Erin
Sunday 30th September saw the Orange Army, in their unaccustomed change colours of blue, drawn at home to Walton Casuals in the first round of the cup. The very same Walton Casuals that beat Claygate 11-0 in their last game. We were always going to be up against it but we have commitment in bucketfuls, we had almost a full squad and we have a great team ethic and players. In what became a classic cup-tie Colne Valley eventually lost 4-3 on penalties after a pulsating 3-3 draw. Unlucky girls, superb effort.
The Under 14s started with a 4-4-2 formation. Rachel in her usual spot in goal, Cookie was at right back, Bethie Crane on the left, the two centre backs were Hannah and Amelie. In midfield we had Morgan on the right, Rhea on the left and the two in central midfield were Lucy "Quinny" Quinn and Erin and upfront we had Alice and Caitlin. The squad was strong and deep and consisted of: Poppy, Milie, Evie, Mia and Lyssie.
Walton Casuals are a very good team that are very well coached. A bit of web research made clear that the club boasts incredible facilities, that their men's senior team is semi-pro and that they train twice a week................but they were about to take on an excellent Colne Valley under 14s team that has: skill, passion, togetherness and character in abundance.
It's fair to say that Walton shaded the early exchanges. we struggled to get out of our own half but Hannah and Amelie marshalled the defence expertly, Rachel was wonderfully committed in goal and Cookie was her combative best at right back and Bethie really growing in assurance and confidence on the left but what was really pleasing to watch was the superb defensive shield that Lucy "Quinny" Quinn and Erin adopted in front of the back 4. Quinny is a technically excellent player and has a wonderful first touch but today she revelled in the scrap and that was great to witness, next to her it was fair to say that Erin was a revelation. I had thought that centre back may be Erin's best position and I have no doubt that she'd do a great job there but she really shone at centre mid today and won her midfield battle, she selflessly helped her two centre backs, drove forward and put simply, played a blinder, her positional sense excellent, her work rate with paralell. We Rhea and Morgz working tirelessly on the flanks we began to look more solid and Caitz and Alice did all the could with the little of the ball that they saw. Alice had a facial injury that I wanted Gina to have a look at so she came off and was replaced by Evie. Evie then went on to have - surely - the best 20 minutes of football she's ever enjoyed. To use modern parlance she was "on fire". Evie scored a hat trick in 15 minutes, all of them superbly taken and 2 of them from wonderful defence splitting passes from Quinny and the other from an inspired piece of centre forward play from Mia won won the ball, beat her man and then perfectly squared it to the onrushing Evie. We had rushed to a 3-0 lead. For 20 minutes or so The Orange Army were magnificent. Worryingly Walton pulled one back just before half time, the very game hinged on that moment.
At half time the talk was based around the next goal being so important. Sadly the next goal went to Walton and just as sadly it was an own goal from Hannah. Who was distraught. The post match advice from the coach to the centre half is to stop trying too hard, to take a breath, stay calm and you'll be just fine.................Love. The girls were magnificent, with 16 players being involved its hard to remember every piece of great play that every player did but we were up against a great side today. I felt their entire half time tactics were based around - completely fairly I hasten to add - stopping Evie and they did that very well, sometimes putting 2 or three players on her but as Evie's reputation continues to grow (that's 9 goals in 2 games) then this'll happen more often so it's down to the coaching team to find ways to counter this, it's a wonderful problem to have.
We kept going, Quinny had her best game for The Army, Alice and Caitz did their best to work their magic, Millie always tried to play the right pass and the back 4 never gave an inch - whoever played there. As legs began to tire Walton grabbed an equalizer, that I think they deserved. Alice whistled one past the far post. Poppy was a rock at the back, Amelie composed and energetic, the girls that played wide all played their part but the ball just didn't seem to bounce for us in the second half and it wasn't for lack of trying.
So the game finished 3-3. It deserved to be a league game where each side could walk away with a point and think that a fair result but the game immediately went to penalties and despite Rachel saving one and doing her best we lost 4-3. At the end of the playing time though it was 3-3 so we're still unbeaten having won 2 and drawn 2, we've played the 3 best team we're going to play all season and we've been magnificent. It needs to be mentioned, that our post match celebration, which consisted of everyone storming after Rachel was just about the most joyous thing I've ever had the pleasure to watch on a football pitch. Well done girls, so proud, so wonderful to be able to witness that.
As for man of the match, I think there were 4 players that really stood out. Cookie was relentless in her efforts defensively, Quinny is technically excellent and is now adding real steel to her game in midfield, Evie took her hat trick so calmly, all finishes were emphatic but Erin really stood out for me today. She was heroic in the centre of the pitch and thoroughly deserved to be on the winning side.
Unlucky girls, thank you for all your efforts. In 38 years of being involved in numerous teams this is definitely the one that I am proudest of.
Happy Birthday weekend to Poppy, thank you to Kellie and Sonia or the wonderful cakes, to the inimitable Big Tone and Terryla for their help setting up, to all who helped tidy up at the end and to Col for running the line.
Let's concentrate on winning the league!
Well done to all, great game and everyone played their part.
Back to winning away next Sunday.