U14 girls at home to Thatcham Town
First local Derby of our U14 campaign
In our second league cup game of the season, we came up against local rivals, Thatcham Town girls, who play in Division 2 Red. We had 13 fit healthy players for the first time in a while, whilst Town had a full team, but no subs.
Evie was captain today as well as goal keeper for the first half, she was supported at the back by the regular faces of Rhianna, Bo, Ruby and Charlotte. In the midfield Daisy and Poppy played inside of Beau and Abi on the wings and Sophie and Joana started up front.
It was our kick off and the girls set out knowing that the expectations were to start strong and focussed, to communicate positively with each other and to work the ball more successfully in the final third of the pitch to create successful shooting opportunities.
We started really well, keeping possession, working the ball around the opposition and exhibiting great control, Joana particularly shone, earlier on, fighting for the ball and releasing it to the right person at the right time. It wasn't long before Sophie penetrated the defense and was able to score our first goal of the match.
The Town keeper was complimented by all of our girls today for her daring escapes from goal and her faultless saves! Our next attempt was a cross from Daisy, expertly set by Sophie for Joana to take a good shot, that was frustratingly saved by the Town keeper.
Our second goal came from Poppy, over the keeper in true Poppy style, which rallied the Town girls to attempt to push back. Our defense worked well to alleviate the pressure, it was great to hear Evie shouting to the defense and telling them how they can best protect her and the goal, great confidence Evie! It was then Evie's chance to spring into action and come out of goal comfortably to make her first of several good saves for the team.
At the back, Charlotte is yet to release her foghorn, but what she lacks on volume, she makes up for in placement of herself and the ball. She reads the game well and has developed a knack for knowing when to release the ball and when to travel, which is really mature, particularly when under pressure!
Our next goal was supported by Grace, who had come on in the midfield and worked hard and confidently from the minute she stepped on the pitch. Grace released the ball to Sophie, who laid it off well to Abi, who finished with style taking us to 3-0. The girls continued to be in great spirits, but after the goal Town fought back and managed to temporarily overwhelm our defence, some of whom were playing out of their regular positions.
The score was momentarily 3-1, but following an excellent corner from Poppy, Ruby proved yet again that she has many talents on the pitch, by sticking the ball in the goal with her left foot! Nice one Rubes, your team are so proud!
Again Town, were desperate to make a come back, but our excellent defense stood up to it easily, although Bo came out the worse for wear after a very brave, crunching tackle with an approaching winger. This is testament to Bo's massive determination and confidence, we are all used to seeing her fly in now to save the day and she certainly didn't disappoint today! Poppy stepped into her shoes warily, but keen to do what she needed to for the team, thankfully it wasn't too long until the whistle!
At half time, the girls feedback was fantastic, they listened to each other and came up with the following constructive points; Daisy noted that sometimes they were calling for the ball, but not looking forward to their next pass or move, others agreed with this. Sophie noted that after watching the game as a sub, she could see why the midfield were reluctant to send through balls to the forwards, as she could clearly see the overload of defenders to strikers and the improbability of those passes working out. Beau agreed that due to her amazing speed down the wing with the ball, her team mates were often not ready for one of her excellent crosses in, so they were being wasted! We discussed some options to hold the play up etc. I was most impressed by Abi, who's observation and feedback was very honestly aimed at herself and she went back out determined to release the ball sooner and look and listen out for easy passes, well reflected Abs!!
We headed back out with Daisy in goal, Holly back right with Bo, Ruby and Charlotte, Abi and Grace on the wings with Evie and Poppy inside and Beau working with Sophie at the front. Poppy could be heard clearly talking and keeping the girls motivated throughout the second half, Evie, maintained the confidence that she had shown in goal and traveled through the pitch several times with the ball, taking time when she had it and completing some great passes.
ON my side of the pitch it was a pleasure to see Holly stepping confidently into the attacking half of the pitch and not only being present, but making herself heard and therefore being successful in receiving back passes and engaging in the attack! For this reason Holly was today's player of the match!!
Abi was certainly on fire today though, after her own insight at half time, she worked really well with her team mates and was well placed to score the next TWO goals in fairly quick succession, With the support of Grace on the other wing, facilitating some passes in to the midfield. Grace is really getting the hang of playing on the wing and certainly lives up to her name, calling and moving well, but also holding the ball, calmly and with purpose.
Rhianna then saved the day , when a daring Town player broke free down the right (her left) she used her body to force the girl off balance, leading to a bad strike and a goal kick for us. Rhianna was completely focussed today (ignoring the canine pitch invasion) and also stepped confidently into the attacking half and considered her passes carefully, particularly in the second half.
Despite our best efforts Town were able to score one more goal bringing the score to 6-2, but this didn't faze us and if anything, our passing and control improved. Poppy, Beau and Sophie had a lovely moment moving the ball amongst themselves in the box, just waiting for that golden moment, Beau's strike (one of many excellent efforts of the day) was expelled by the keeper for a corner.
Holly and Charlotte then worked together to force a bad pass in the counter attack and Joana on the wing, made some excellent choices, running with the ball, communicating well with Sophie, who made good use of Joana in space to create more opportunities. Evie pushed up well and placed an excellent shot on target, which was saved by the awesome Town keeper.
In the final minutes I enjoyed watching Grace take on 3 players and come out on top, Abi calling and supporting, Holly calling and putting herself forward, Daisy calling for a pass back to keeper and switching play, Evie travelling again with the ball and Rhianna making some great quality defensive touches.
This feels like a long report, but I truly had so much to compliment and comment on today. The communications are improving and the girls are deciding together, how they want a game to pan out. Some girls were played out of position, but took to their different roles well and the support from their teammates was just amazing! As mentioned above Holly was player of the match because she stepped out of her previous comfort zone into a new one! She is looking and sounding more confident as well as showing improved speed, I'm really impressed Hols!!
We also received compliments from our referee today, who is the overall referee's co-coordinator. Firstly she was impressed to see a good supply of women in our supporters camp as she sadly feels this is lacking in girls football. She complimented our communication on pitch, which I was delighted about and she had some individual compliments, which I have passed on to the girls in question!