Evie Cann - Sensational!
Claygate Royals FC Kestrels 3 V Colne Valley Girls Under 14s 4
The Orange Army have had some tense and controversial matches against Claygate over these last couple of seasons. It sometimes hasn't felt that the footballing Gods have smiled upon The Orange Army in this fixture, however a 2-0 home win from The Orange Army earlier in the season should have given the girls some self belief.
We started with a 4-4-1-1 formation. Rachel was in goal, the back 4, from right to left was: Cookie, Hannah, Poppy and Lyssie, the midfield four being: Morgan, Erin, Caitlin and Mia. Upfront we had Quinny playing off Evie.
Claygate, as a team are far taller and physically stronger than Colne Valley, that was clear. It felt that, for parts of the first half, we allowed ourselves to be intimidated by this and we did not seem to match them for physicality or commitment. Claygate have some excellent players, all over the pitch and were brave enough to often leave 4 up front. This put pressure on Poppy and Hannah but they didn't seem to communicate between each other and properly deal with it. Rachel's kicking seemed off and we just invited pressure. Then decisions were made by players regarding where they should play, decisions that have to be made by the coach and the coach alone.
Despite the above The Orange Army took a 1-0 lead when Evie raced through and calmly slotted. That didn't seem to settle us down however. Cookie put in a lung bursting last ditch tackle, Morgz threw herself into challenges but we were not competing in all areas of the pitch. Claygate scored 2 goals, through Colne Valley errors rather than their own excellent play. Then,, a moment of magic from Caitlin and Quinny set up Evie, who curled in a fantastic effort to level the scores.
Then came half time. Then came the team talk. It is fair to say that The Orange Army have been magnificent all season. Even the 1 game we lost we deserved to win. The Army have been cheered from the roof tops and they deserve every single compliment that has come their way. But sometimes...................in this most beautiful of games....................you just have to roll your sleeves up and do a job............all over the pitch. And sometimes teams need to be reminded of this. They were and we awaited the reaction.
A bouncing ball over Rachel's head and then a helluva tussle lead to Claygate going 3-2 ahead. Rachel looked genuinely distraught. There are times when a player needs a comforting word. I had a word. Rachel is a superstar. Oddly, that third goal could have been the best thing that happened to The Orange Army. It dawned on this great team that unless they up it, they were going to lose.
The Orange Army is a team made up of many different characters with many different skill sets. For the last 15 minutes of the game these different talents merged to form an unstoppable force. We have strong players, we have quick players, we have skillful players but they all share a will to do their all for the shirt. We began to win more tackles, the central base of Hannah, Poppy and Erin suddenly looked so much more solid and organised. Mighty Mia and Lyssie were tenacious in their efforts on the left and worked that line tremendously well. Bethie Boo rock solid at right back and linking superbly with Rhea who was a constant menace and was forever turning her marker and Quinny and Caitlin were both so assured, both such wonderfully intelligent players...........Evie must love the quality of their defence splitting passes. At 3-2 down and with not too much time left I would have settled for a hard fought point.
Rachel seemed galvanised, her kicks went further and she was smothering the ball. Lyssie and Mia had too much energy for Claygate but so much of our game is for Caitlin or Quinny to have their foot on the ball and for Evie to make the right run, with Rhea constantly driving down the right we still had hope. Erin maintained the shield and threw herself into tackles. Come on The Orange Army!!
Then Caitlin, Super C, Caitz, the best corner takes on the planet picked up the ball in open play and spotted Evie's run perfectly and laid the pass for Evie's run...........and Evie bagged her hat-trick. Well done Super C, well done Evie Kenevie!
So 3-3 it looked like finishing but then Claygate had a couple of chances. Rachel threw herself on the ball!! Lyssie, Hannah, Poppy and Bethie Boo made clearance after clearance, the wingers, Mia and Rhea worked their socks off.
I felt too much to ask for a winner, the girls had turned it around and had given their all, an away point at Claygate a decent result. But you have to remember the collective will of The Orange Army. I had spoken to Evie before the game and had said that Claygate hadn't seen you before so shock them, well they were completely rattled by the end as after more good work from Rhea, Evie broke through and achieved the improbable. She got her 4th, we were 4-3 up. Myself and Colin enjoyed a man hug to end all man hugs and the team was elated. All apart from Poppy who had no idea what the score was and thought we were losing!!
A late winner from Emily V Twickenham, A late winner from Lyssie V Twickenham and now a late winner V Claygate. This is all down to the hard work put in in training and a refusal to accept a draw when a win is possible. A wonderful effort The Orange Army. So delighted to win that, so proud to witness the turnaround from half time.
Special mentions to Morgan and Cookie that both gave their all (Cookie getting injured) before coming off.
Today's man of the match is Evie. When I played I didn't have much respect for forwards that always seemed to score a couple when we won 6-0. I loved centre forwards that would get the winner when we won 1-0, the centre forward making themselves the difference between the two teams. Evie often makes the difference. She has showed a wonderful attitude all season and she has just her just rewards. Today she was exceptional. Well done Evie and well done to the entire Orange Army for all your: character, tenacity, togetherness and collective heart. As James Cook so emphatically said "CRACKING!"