Scorers: Chelsea, Annika
The sun was shining in Wanstead Flats where we were up against East London “Ladies”. We managed to get most of our players to the pitch in time for kick-off, with the exception of Chelsea who went walkabout through Wanstead Flats. Things got off to a slow start when the ref decided we needed a ball change 30 seconds after kick-off, but after some faffing about we got going in earnest. East London were on their heels right away as we worked the ball up the pitch. Tash and Jenna dominated the center and worked the ball up and out to the wingers and the forwards, who had some good chances but couldn’t quite nail the finish. Harry, Megan, Naomi & Zoe did their bit on the back line, holding the attackers off, with Lale making use of the short pitch to pick up East London’s through balls, much to their disappointment.
As the game wore on AP maintained much of the possession, and the “Ladies” quickly began to show their frustration by throwing their bodies around, and, more charmingly, cursing and yelling at each other and the ref. Their center mid showed herself to be all class by deliberately standing offside on a free kick in order to make some sort of statement about the ref’s calls. It was going to be one of those matches. Despite the escalating tension and use of unladylike language by the opponents, Emily had a good chance in front of the net on a 50/50 ball, but the defender took her out and gave her a good club in the head for good measure. Apparently it knocked some sense into her though as she grabbed a loose ball in the center and lobbed it over the back line to Chelsea, who was on the move and beat the keeper for our first goal of the match. Not long after, Jenna took a free kick which looked to be sailing over the net, but dropped and hit the crossbar, bouncing perfectly back onto Annika’s waiting head. 2-nil for AP going into the half.
We knew that the “Ladies” (really, how can they seriously call themselves that?) would be baying for blood in the second half, and we weren’t wrong. They had moved some players around and were putting more pressure on the back line. Lale mopped up most of the through balls, but we were starting to tire and the extra pressure was having some effect. East London got a cross in front of the net that bounced away from our defense, and their attacker capitalized and lobbed the ball in over Lale’s head. The pressure was now on, and there were battles in both directions to get the ball up and into the nets. The “Ladies” were getting angrier and angrier, swearing at us, the ref, and each other, and arguing with the referee about every call he did or didn’t make. Naomi was knocked down by a wild hip check from an attacker, who followed up by yelling at her and calling her names. Not to be outdone, another player, who disagreed with the ref’s offside call, decided she should lecture him on the rules of the game. The first yellow card of the match made an appearance as the ref began to lose his patience.
With time ticking off the clock, we were fighting to get another point to put things out of reach, and East London were still fighting (in some cases, with each other) to notch the equalizer. Part of our strategy was to just try not to get injured as the opposition took out their frustrations on our smaller squad. With 5 minutes remaining, the ref called East London for a foul throwin, and their sweeper lost her mind, screaming at him about his call. That was enough to put the referee over the edge, and he pulled out the red card, to which the charming young lady called him even more colourful names and provided accompanying hand gestures, which the children on the sidelines must have particularly enjoyed. We just needed to hang on until the end and watch them implode. There were a couple more chances from both sides, but eventually the whistle went and AP women could declare a 2 game winning streak. The “Ladies” closed out the game by refusing to shake hands (with the exception of 3 players who seemed embarrassed to be there) or cheer for our side. Stay classy East London.
WoM: Harry & Emily