U14 girls away to Winnersh Rangers Diamonds
By Amy Craik
Tornadoes are on their way to the final!
Thank goodness for spring finally showing its head and the wind dying down! We were met with good conditions today as we set out to take on Winnersh for the second time in a few week, this time for the chance to play in the Trophy final.
We had twelve players today and I was keen for them to start with the same drive they did last week. With Rhianna in goal supported by Holly, Bo, Ruby and Charlotte at the back, we had Daisy and Poppy in the middle flanked by Abi and Beau and headed up by Sophie and Grace. Chloe was waiting on the sidelines ready to come on on the wing.
We won the toss and took kick off, but frustratingly we weren't as on it as last week from the start and it fell to Ruby to clean up a Winnersh attack and win us a goal kick. Within seconds Charlotte was doing the same, until we started to move the ball around. Poppy's composure in the middle meant that the ball was being continually sent forwards, but it took a while for us to notice the space and calm the play down. Eventually a beautiful cross from Beau and a touch from grace set Daisy up to send the ball towards the goal (slowly) with her left foot and we watched in delight as it crossed the line putting us 1-0 up.
It is usually the first goal in a game that calms and focuses us if we weren't already and indeed there were some lovely moments, Grace pressing to keep the ball high, including putting pressure on the keeper, Holly pushing up and placing her passes accurately and Chloe now on the wing confidently tackling to win several throws.
A rogue breakaway from a speedy Winnersh girl, who Ruby fought so hard to keep up with, left us slightly bemused as they slipped the ball in to equalise, but this only served to rally our troops! An excellent cross from Poppy was skillfully controlled by Sophie and within seconds Poppy was slamming in our second goal through the Winnersh defence.
Now in our stride our third goal came from Abi after Chloe freed up the ball from our defensive line into Poppy, who switched to Sophie, who, with excellent skill and selflessness laid off to Abi who finished with a long high ball.
I asked for communication today and I heard it on and off. I particularly noted Abi, Beau, Sophie and Poppy talking, which meant they were connecting really well on the pitch, well done girls!
Within minutes again we were celebrating a 4th goal where Poppy knocked the ball to Daisy who put it over the keeper for a brilliant goal, respect to the Winnersh defender who went all out to try and prevent it.
We continued to press high and Grace was refusing to let a Winnersh player make any progress with the ball, winning a throw in. At this point, Winnersh dug deep and started to put us under pressure, forcing Rhianna out twice in quick succession for 2 excellent saves, conceding a corner with her brilliant dive.
Bo shone in the last few minutes, pushing high into the Winnersh half with confidence to block any chance of an attack. Winnersh were still desperately trying, but Beau and Chloe both instinctively supported defence and Holly was very busy in her area.
At half time I had a bit of negative feedback as I was disappointed by our start, but I encouraged the girls to play their regular game, remembering that we did not need to panic and bunch in response to the opposition. I praised the girls for all having individual successes, but asked them to remember their calm safe passes.
We went back on, raring to go in our initial formation, Winnersh had kick off and despite our lack of urgency to get involved we had a goal within the minute, Bo being instrumental in preventing Winnersh progressing twice and initiating a passing combo between Sohpie, Abi and Daisy allowing Daisy to chip the keeper once again and score.
Sophie's hard work holding up the ball near the corner lead her to win a corner, which Poppy sent curving towards the goal for Grace to 'gracefully' finish with her face!
The next strike came from Chloe who was having a brilliant game followed by Sophie after another great combo to win another corner. This time Poppy's ball was curving beautifully in and as Daisy ducked to let it in the keeper made contact with it, but sadly for her, could not prevent the goal.
Holly and Charlotte continued to work hard under pressure with both Ruby and Bo running hard to see off any Winnersh attempts. Rhianna made a cracking save, coming out bravely to scoop the ball from a runners feet.
Tensions were high on the pitch at this stage, as Winnersh realised they were not going through to the final. Fair play to them though, they fought to the end, but their panic was our advantage as we kept our cool and Sophie managed to score our 8th goal, firmly securing our passage to the final.
The girls praised Chloe's confidence, Rhianna's saves and Grace's goal. I awarded player of the match to Holly because from the start she was focussed and on it, she worked so hard and kept her cool in difficult situations, well done Hols, keep it up!..... To the final!!