Goals: Turrell, Dirksen
Today’s game against Regents Park Ladies started slightly chaotically as we lost various team members somewhere on the London underground system. The stragglers eventually turned up in time for a team photo in our lovely new kit which we all felt very swish in (to quote my granny). Although there may well be fights over the larger shorts in future games. Seriously, the small ones are for kids right?!
We had a slightly unconventional line up with no goal keeper, so like the cooperative we are, four outfield players volunteered to play a quarter in goal starting with Jean. We were all happy to see our strike force of Beth and Annika back with us after their extended winter break. I think it’s written into their contracts just like Raheem Sterling.
The game started rather chaotically too with the first move nearly causing us to concede however luckily Marina, the oppo’s famous number 9 shot wide. I swear the ref was laughing at us. Anyway, we regrouped and got stuck in from then on. It was clear from the outset that this was going to be a tough game, they had definitely improved since our last game against them. Their general tactic was to boot long balls over and hope Marina got on the end of them. She was pretty fast. However we fought back as well and had a few shots but they were closing down quickly and the first quarter finished 0-0.
Time for a keeper change with Brell taking up the role and Jean coming into centre back. We battled on, it was end to end stuff with Tash and Chelsea bossing the midfield, Annika and Emily like whippets on the wings, Jennah and Beth fighting for every ball and the defenders keeping it solid at the back. Despite this, the Oppo smashed a long ball over us which Marina ran on to and despite the defence’s best efforts she managed to get a well timed shot on which looped high over Brell and into the back of the net. We were 1-0 down and that’s how we went into half time, despite some nail biting opportunities which from my view from the back looked exceptionally close.
The third quarter started with Tash in goal. She was like a little hero in there despite her choice to completely negate the use of her hands and make epic clearances with her feet instead.
The game seemed to get a lot more physical from this point and despite being 1-0 down, we kept our heads and played our game and soon enough came our first goal. This started with a ball from defence, Brell (I think), Annika ran down the wing, crossed the ball into the 6 yard box, forcing their keeper to fumble around and lose it. Then Beth swooped in and with speed, power and precision got us an equaliser. Such precision may have come from knowing that some cash for her charity had been pledged in exchange for goals. I think that one earned her a pound.
There was a very hairy moment when Marina with the ball at her feet, made a lightning quick run towards Tash who came out expertly to block her powerful shot which rebounded to the feet of another Oppo who immediately took another shot which was cleared off the line by the defence who had dropped to cover Tash’s line. The clearance landed at Marinas feet of course and she took another shot which was again blocked by the defence. (sorry this is a very defence centric report today, but hey, we deserve some glory, proud of the defenders today!!)
The fourth quarter got underway with Nicky moving into goal and Tash taking up the midfield.
There was a sweet opportunity for us from a corner which involved several shots and rebounds but somehow the ball didn’t find its way into the net. Marina who I was stood with on the half way line muttered ‘God was looking out for us’. So don’t blame yourself ladies, it was God who didn’t want us to score at this point. The ball made its way up to the other end and following a slight defender miscommunication (no one’s perfect huh?) Regents Park made their way through and one of their players seemed to come from nowhere to receive a cross which she neatly buried. We had gone down again, 2-1.
But we battled on. Chelsea was working hard, twisting the Oppo up with her silky skills. There are some points when she’s got three players on her and you think ‘she’ll never get through that gap’ but she does!! Chelsea put a beautiful cross in from the left, the keeper wrong footed and meant that Beth was left with an open goal…However, as any striker will know, these seemingly simple opportunities are often the most frequently missed and Beth couldn’t quite convert. No matter, Chelsea continued to dance her way through the opposition ranks, which was starting to rile the regents park ladies and they began hacking away at her, first in the midfield which earned us s free kick. This was taken by Chelsea herself, the ball curled sweetly and just skimmed past the top corner. So close! Then and after a series of epic fouls closer to goal and at least two tumbles to the ground we were awarded a penalty. Jennah volunteered confidently and calmly sunk the ball into the back of the net.
Yes!! 2-2 with only about 6 minutes to go. Very quickly an attack was mounting against us with a long range aerial pass heading towards Marina who was hassling the defence. Brell jumped and intercepted this with her head but unfortunately the clearance went in the wrong direction. This bit was like a slow motion movie scene to me, the ball looped over keeper Nicky’s head, she shouted ‘Noooooooo’ whilst stretching herself out like a pouncing tiger whilst I was trying to claw my way back to the goal line. Nicky managed to get her hands to the ball and parried the ball away!! Amazing!!! This was quickly followed up by a clearance by Brell. A quick ball through the middle made its way to Jennah who took a shot at goal which sailed over their keeper and curled its way past the post and into the net. 2-3!!! The whistle went a few minutes later and we had won. Really impressive team performance coming back from behind twice good work ladies. It really was a game of four quarters!!
It was quite a physical game, one of the Oppo tore something in her knee, Sarah hurt her leg in a defensive battle and Emily lost her toe nail!! But probably most painful for Zoe watching on the side lines. Hope you recover soon ladies!! Well done Jennah with her two goals and well deserved player of the match award.
Match report by Harriet Alcock