Superb Lyssie Header Seals The Points for the Orange Army!!
Top of "The Leader Board" at the Half Way Stage!
Twickenham Cygnets 0 (0) Colne Valley 1 (0)
This week had been a very emotional time for the team that is The Orange Army. Last week's gallant 1-0 loss to South Park paled into insignificance when the terrible news emerged that Michelle, Morgan's Mum, had lost her brave battle to cancer, Morgan has played with a smile on her face all season and always gives her all. The team talked before the game and we all decided that today was all about "winning it for Morgan"................how the footballing Gods smiled dawned upon us.
We had a squad of 13 today, with both Millie and Quinny coming back after being unavailable last week. We started with a 4-4-2 formation with Rachel in goal, Cookie at right back, Hannah and Poppy at the heart of defence and Lyssie at left back. Bestie started at right midfield, Rhea was on the left, Emily got her wish to play centre midfield alongside Caitz and upfront we went with Evie with Super Alice buzzing around off her. Very solid and creative looking line up with 2 dynamic subs. I went into the match quietly confident.
One thing The Orange Army need to be aware of is that all the other teams are improving too, the more you practice and the harder you work the better you will become and this is very true of our opponents. I sensed the opposition coach was full of confidence before the match too. However he was up against The Orange Army, The Orange Army with a point to prove.
We started the match very brightly, Evie has made a blistering start to the season but as she becomes a known force her reputation will grow so we (her Dad, Jaxon and I) have been working on making her a more rounded centre forward, to work the entire width of the pitch and to time her runs and be more aggressive, Evie is a quick learner and is also very keen to soak up the advice and she worked the back 4 tirelessly today without getting the rewards that she deserved but they will come on another day. Super Alice and Evie dovetailed very well together but it was clear that Twickenham's tactics were to put all their best players in defence and keep us quiet, with the hope of hitting us on the break.
The closest The Orange Army came to conceding in the first half was when we played the linesman's flag rather than the ref's whistle and nearly got caught at the far post but Poppy and co were able to recover.
What was pleasing, and very noticeable was the wonderful commitment that the girls offered today. On a very wide and long pitch it was hard to create chances around their penalty spot, most chances came around the edge of the box and the pitch being what is was meant that these were too often easy for their - very capable - goalkeeper to deal with. Emily Hutt was picture of wonderful industry in midfield, winning countless headers and tackles as well as always looking to drive forward. Caitz a picture of assurance and firing in wonderful corner after wonderful corner that no one was quite able to get on the end of. With Layla and Rhea adding balance and commitment from the wings we were always the better team, the question was - would we be able to break them down?
In a game like today, when it was all about scoring it can be easy to overlook the defence and goalkeeper but the defence and goalkeeper of the Orange Army tends to be superb. In our recent friendly loss to a premier league side it became clear what a huge role Rachel plays in the team, she's often the littlest, she's always the youngest but Good Lord she does her bit. Another clean sheet for her today, her 4th of the season. Cookie, with her reliability and effort, has begun to make the right back spot her own, she is unrelenting in her effort and makes tackle after tackle, she listens too and is fast becoming a rock. Well done Cookie. With Poppy and Hannah (although why the pair of them seem so keen to take the ball full on in the stomach rather than heading it is beyond me) building their centre back partnership week on week and both being models of consistency then we really are fast becoming a very hard side to break down, as "The Leader Board" suggests. The best player on the pitch today though was Lyssie, not just for what happened in the dying embers of the game either. I have long thought that full back is the most under-rated position on the pitch, as a full back you can paint your own canvas. You can be a marauding, buccaneering fullback or you can be a "good old-fashioned" full back, I gravitate towards the former, there really is only one Gary Neville................thank God!! Providing you get back and do your defensive duty then the whole side of the pitch is yours to exploit. Lyssie swashbuckled down the left today and it was great to watch. I rang a few changes. Quinny calm and composed in midfield, a lovely footballer with the most natural of technique, always looking to put her foot on the ball and play the right pass. Millie came on down the right and, similarly to Quinny, always looked to play the right pass. If there is one thing I would change with the Orange Army, well two things actually, it would be to just calm down a bit, to take a touch when you have the time and also to never be afraid of the physical side of the game - it's a contact sport, is that three things? Forgive me!
But let's not split hairs shall we, how can anyone have a beef with a side that always gives 100 per cent right to the very end, that always supports each other, that, in my opinion, always respects the opposition and plays the game in the correct spirit?
So with Alice and Evie doing all they could to create the winner, when Emily doing all she could to continue to burst in the box, with all the probing from Caitz, Millie and Quinny and with the "Awesome Foursome" (our back 4) holding solid was there anyway we could grab the winner? Time was ticking away.....we kept going..................we won a corner..........we have the best corner taker in the entire league..........step forward Super Caitz.........I noticed that Poppy and Rhea were doing their jobs marking on the half way line and then I noticed Lyssie was free, I said "Go on Lyssie you're spare"................she sprinted forward....................Caitz swung in another wicked corner, Emily, Evie and Alice threw themselves at it, the ball bounced about, it was about 7ft in the air, Lyssie attacked it, Lyssie got her head to it, and Lyssie looped a fantastic header over their goalkeeper and into the back of the net. WELL DONE CAITZ, WELL DONE LYSSIE, WELL DONE THE ORANGE ARMY!!
No more than the girls deserved. So after 10 games we're at the halfway stage of the season, we're top of the league. We've lost one game all season. Let's keep going.
Not sure if you'll ever read this Morgan - but they did it for you!