11 players win at Winnersh
By Michael Lethbridge
The Swans were the bare eleven for this fixture, but Winnersh fortunately obliged and turned up with ten with their eleventh arriving 10 minutes after KO. Unsurprisingly, the girls started a little sluggishly after such a lengthy lay-off and were unable to make their initial numerical advantage count. However, as the game wore on a pattern developed with Grace commanding (and demanding) the ball looking for that perfect through pass for Lucy. Meanwhile, Leonnie dragged defenders away with nice hold up play and our wingers, Ruby and Lianna, probed the channels for opportunities. Defensively, we had a few scares with an awkward bobbling ball and effective Winnersh forwards looking dangerous on the turn. This back four, though, stuck to their guns and began to close down the spaces in the Winnersh attack: centre-backs Anna and Niamh contained their strikers and Olivia and Izzy tackled, harassed and played safe to touch to allow us to get our breath back. Maud, screening the back four, launched into ball winning and shoulder barging to protect our goal and made short passes to Grace to create things with. Serena didn’t have too much action but ran off her line imposingly to collect any lose balls.
We needed a goal and it came from a 50/50 ball win near our penalty area with the ball eventually breaking to Grace who supplied the perfect pass for Lucy to run onto and beat the keeper with a low shot. The girls re-focused and looked strong, a run down the right wing from Ruby into the box and slotted the ball into the goal with Leonnie running in touching the ball even though it had crossed the line it was deemed offside after the Winnersh linesman consulted the ref (Leonnie off side even though the ball had crossed the line). The girls remained focused which soon payed off, with all our front four and Grace going close as the first half drew to its close. This time Leonnie slotted in again from 5 yards after Ruby put it in the box and another goal mouth scramble. 2-0 at half time.
The wind picked up against us in the second half and the Swans were finding it difficult to get out of their half with Winnersh much improved after the break. There was some desperate defending to deny Winnersh, but the opposition had to chase the game which would present us with opportunities on the counter. So it proved as Ruby surged down the wing and cutting inside, whilst still outside the box, struck an wicked thunderous shot over the advancing keeper to make it 3-0. Winnersh still posed a threat though and following a free kick, the ball fell to a Winnersh winger whose lob / cross bounced over Serena to make it 3-1. The Swans were up for it and put the game beyond doubt when a Lucy long throw caused enough confusion in the box for Lianna to score from close range. A great victory from our eleven girls with a woman-of-the-match performance from every player.