Well our Cup run didn’t last long but playing one of the top teams in the league it was always going to be a challenge. Having lost 6-0 a few weeks ago to Marlow we knew we were going to be in for a busy time defensively.
We spoke before the game about closing them quickly and not giving them time on the edge of the box to take shots. The game panned out as expected, unfortunately, with most of the action in our half but the defensive unit and midfielders were doing a great job at frustrating them. Whilst they were having shots most were rushed due to our pressure and not on target, although they did have one early on which grazed the top of the crossbar. Those that were on target were dealt with by Ciara. We were struggling to get up the pitch but when we did Lily was busy putting their defenders under pressure too. Every one of our defenders was strong, with Hannah M and Phoebe controlling the centre and Lucy, Anna, Hannah V & Holly playing well in the wider positions. Imogen and Polly were everywhere and Amelie, Hollie and Neve were tucking in to defend when needed but also doing their part to get us up the pitch.
They began to exert some more pressure on us and at one point I thought they had broken the deadlock when a looping shot looked to be going over Ciara and into the top corner only for her to get a hand to it and push it up (twice) before catching it right on the line. They continued to try and find a breakthrough but Ciara was doing her bit to frustrate them including a stunning one handed save from a shot from the edge of the box which looked destined for the top corner. That one got a ripple of applause from those watching. Unfortunately, just before half-time they did find the goal that, to be fair, was looking likely. We were caught by a nice turn down near our corner flag where two of our defenders were beaten and allowed her to get goal side. Somehow the shot squeezed its way through Ciara who was guarding the near post.
1-0 down at half time meant that the heads didn’t drop and the girls knew that we were still in this game even if our chances so far had been very limited. The second half started much more evenly for the first 20 minutes with Phoebe, who was now in goal, producing some great early saves. Some lovely play between Hollie, Neve and Ciara released Ciara to run on through at goal but a little bit too much power on the shot saw the effort fly over. Polly was everywhere in the second half as Ciara pushed up sensing another opportunity coming. I can’t quite recall the build-up to our next chance but remember the ball smashing off the underside of the crossbar and back out after another effort from Ciara. Marlow at this point started to exert some more pressure and finally got their second with a high shot slipping through the hands of Phoebe, the wet ball certainly not helping make it easy to catch. They continued to push and within a couple of minutes had a 3rd goal when from a corner it hit one of our players and went in.
Our final effort on goal came when they tried to play the ball out from goal, it broke to Hollie who seeing the goal keeper out of position hit it first time from about 30 yards. Unfortunately it was the side netting that rattled rather than the back of the net.
There was time for one more goal for Marlow who after a good run we just couldn’t close quick enough and the shot found its way in off another of our players although it might have been goal bound anyway.
So 4-0 was the final score but I was very pleased of the defensive performance. All the girls battled hard against a very good and organised team.
Since we are now out of the main Cup we find ourselves in the Plate again this year so have the opportunity to defend the trophy we won last year.