Under 14 girls vs AFC Caversham
Wind rain and bright sunshine, but weather did not stop play!
As my grandma would say, the girls had 'the wind up their tales today!' We started this match with heavy rain and very strong winds, our starters were: Evie in goal, Charlotte, Bo, Ruby and Rhianna in defence, Poppy and Holly in midfield with Chloe and Grace on the wings and Daisy and Abi at the front. I felt that our start was sloppy as we found our feet and no doubt the weather conditions had something to do with this!
We were under a fair bit of pressure in our area to begin with until Grace released a decent ball to Daisy for our first attacking opportunity, in which Abi struck just wide of the goal. Now we were focussed and ready to play and before long Poppy shot, striking the cross bar only for Grace to jump and head the ball into the goal with purpose! We were all so pleased for Grace, earning her first goal for the team!
Next followed a quality forward pass from Holly, using strength to keep control in the middle of the pitch and when the Caversham crew broke through Charlotte was there to challenge them, easily taking on several players to accurately release the ball to Daisy, who out-skilled several players to release the ball to Abi for a shot. Abi was taken down in the area to win a penalty and comfortably placed the ball in the bottom right corner, surprising the keeper!
In the next counter attack pressure was strong from the defence and Beau worked her legs off as usual to meet the ball and bring it back into our attacking half, making a succession of switches, timing and placing her kicks well. Another counter attack from Caversham lead to Evie's first save of the day, with the support from Charlotte. Our next goal came from Beau, who surely deserved one after several selfless runs and passes. The goal was a beauty, long and high, leaving the keeper with no option, but to watch it go over her head.
The rain eased off and our determination improved again, our next attempt on goal, turning into a comical spectacle in which, both Daisy and Abi kicked the ball into the post, ultimately leading to a corner. We held possession well in Caversham's area allowing Daisy to outskill players for our 4th goal.
Caversham then countered with all their might and Evie made another great save, Kiana showing strength in the middle and great placement of the ball. Ruby was the star of the next round of defence, putting pressure on players using her body to prevent the pass. Kiana continued to tackle hard and make perfect passes, but Caversham were determined and made some quality passes allowing them to bypass our super defence and despite a long run from Ruby, managed to score.
Hollys marking was spot on towards the end of the first half, with Chloe falling back to rescue the ball creating a great opportunity to bring the ball forward with the support of Joana.
Second half, Holly played forward with Beau and immediately worked to win the ball and move it on to her teammates. Kiana in defence showed a real intuition for the ball and even attempted a heel flick clearance. Rhianna switched on in the second half and really impressed me with her confidence in playing forward and anticipating counter attacks, preventing several Caversham attempts to break through.
Abi used the wing wisely to bring the ball forward and make use of Joana in the middle, who was able to take an on target shot, that was saved by the keeper.
Although it was a high scoring game for us this does not represent the effort the Caversham girls put in and our defenders were never able to rest easy! Charlotte and Ruby sprinted to recover and defend a Caversham attack and were able to use Daisy in goal, who came out confidently to support.
A free kick, taken by Daisy, was effortlessly controlled by Beau, who released it to Poppy, who placed our 5th goal of the game. Now was Chloe's time to shine, coming into midfield to rescue the ball and running the ball wide and out of danger, making use of Evie who was working hard in the midfield against some tough opponents.
Our next goal was scored by Beau with the assistance of Poppy, these two have worked really well together today. In quick succession, Poppy put in our final goal of the match and we then had to work to maintain the score, with Bo taking an excellent first touch of a high attacking ball, Grace and Holly communication and playing great football followed by some great Holly, Evie, Grace combinations!
What an exciting game to watch today and I enjoyed watching some of the girls increase their confidence with the ball under pressure. In training we have been working on footwork, skills and 'keeping the ball'. I saw some excellent examples of this today, but by far the most accomplished under pressure was Charlotte, who is quietly confident in her ability to, slow the pace of play down (even in the most tense moments) using skill and pace to take the ball into space before releasing accurately to her teammates. For these reasons Charlotte was our player of the match today, well done Charlotte!
Special mentions went to Grace, who has stepped up another level, looking fearless in the tackle and showing ever increasing control of the ball. Also to Kiana, who shone in defence, reading the ball incredibly well and positioning herself accordingly, making accurate pass after accurate pass to get us out of sticky situations!