It was another abnormally warm and sunny autumn Sunday as the women’s team travelled to Walthamstow to play Islington Borough (no logic to their name, clearly). With our player/manager unable to play due to a delayed flight home from Italy, and one of our players stuck in traffic on the motorway on their way home from a weekend away, it was a plucky 11 that got stuck in to the first half.
Islington Borough quickly put us under pressure with their pacey striker and wingers. However with their forwards struggling to grasp the offside rule and a tight backline they were frequently caught offside and they didn’t look too threatening. This was a team we could beat! Unfortunately, luck was not on our side in the first half, and with rampant shouts for offside from our defence one of their lightning quick wingers managed to get a shot past Kelly. We knew we were still in the game, however, and so pushed back putting together neat passes and with Beth, our late player, arriving and subbing onto the left wing we were starting to create more chances. Islington Borough continued to pressure our midfield and defence with Kelly in goal making some critical saves. The first half finished with the 1-0 score line unchanged, but with AP looking much more positive: the defence linking well with midfield, who were putting incisive passes on to striker Tracey and Helena pressuring for loose balls up front.
Feeling that we had the advantage at the end of the first half, we started the second half confidently and Islington Borough started to flounder. We stayed camped in the opposition’s half, with Bonnie’s Rory Delap-esque throw ins into the box creating numerous chances (and one head over heel’s tumble for Bonnie!) Islington Borough were panicking and we capitalised on this. Beth, on the left wing, intercepted one of the opposition’s goal kicks and spied Tracey on the shoulders of the defence. Beth lobbed the ball over the defence and into the path of Tracey who struck a beautiful ball out of the keeper’s reach and into the net…We were drawing! The goal invigorated and us and within 4 minutes Annika was sprinting up the right wing crossing the ball into the box for Tracey to flick into goal. WE WERE WINNING FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON!!!! And boy, were we happy about it! Our second goal seemed to shake Islington Borough out of their stupor and they started to build the pressure again. We battled competently at first, still pushing up for chances through Emily in left back linking up well with Beth on the wing and Jannie and Ester holding the midfield well, chasing down loose balls and any opposition midfielder with the ball. Defence were under pressure as Islington started pushing more players forward and made a few tactical subs bringing back on their speediest strikers. At centre back Eline and Harry dealt with this threat effectively. Eline keeping pace with their speediest of strikers and always getting that vital toe to the ball, putting it out of reach of the oppo and Harry making strong clearances from all over our half (and at one point off our goal line!) When balls slipped through to Kelly her Inspector Gadget arms stopped Islington in their tracks. However, there was only so long that defence could keep up such an epic performance, and as we began to tire, Islington started to gain the edge in the game. Unfortunately, in the last 15minutes we conceded two goals from Islington’s skilful midfielders taking strikes from long range, which we did not manage to close down and one final kick in the teeth from a corner – an extremely well placed header into the top left hand corner of the goal, which try as she might, right back Zoe, could just not jump high enough to reach.
Although it was an exhausting and frustrating result, the team felt buoyed by our performance and our temporary lead. Onwards and upwards ladies!!!