Very hard fought draw from a tired Andover team
By Mark Taylor
On what was a bitterly cold day with artic winds cutting across the Yateley pitch delivering a few snowflakes followed by horizontal hail, the girls worked hard in testing conditions. With over half the team fresh (or not) from playing in a very hard fought end to end U16s match it was clear from the start this was going to be a stressful game for the coach and spectators. This was compounded by the loss of two key players to sickness and traffic jams.
Yateley came out looking to win their first game of the season and hit the girls hard. Each tackle was hard and agricultural and ground the game in to a messy melee that completely threw the Andover girls as crunching stick tackles went unpenalised time after time.
Yateley had a great set of forwards who manage to make penetrating attacks time after time, which put the Andover defence to the test as weary legs across the pitch started to tell. Drawing first blood Yateley sensed a win could be achieved and went on to draw second blood too and despite a valiant effort from the Andover girls nothing was going their way as shot after shot went wide or was deftly saved. After the first two goals the Andover defence stood strong with some great saves and determined defending from all.
At half time parents had to rush on with coats and warm clothing to try to keep the girls from freezing, so it was a very rapid turnaround and short fiery pep talk. The second half saw a little more of the Andover we have come to expect as tiredness also started to affect the Yateley girls and play started to open up more. Andover started to deliver more penetrating attacks that kept grazing the post and going wide. Twenty five minutes in the pressure was really mounting and the quest to win the league was looking to be founding on the Yateley rocks when the masses of Jelly babies and wine gums consumed at Half time suddenly delivered the necessary sugar rush that lifted the Andover girls to be able to once again open up play and take the game to Yateley.
Finally Liv slotted one home much to the relief of everyone, which lifted the team to new heights as with the clock ticking down they needed one more to save the day and keep hopes alive. With minutes left on the clock the pressure was nearly all from Andover. The Yateley keeper deliberately kicked a saved shot at goal across the back line as Andover pressed to knock it in. This give us an important short corner. Nerves on edge with time running out, the shouts of delight and relief from the Andover supports could be heard in Andover, as palpable relief flooded the pitch when Anna powered the ball past an outstretched keeper to reverberate off the back board.
Both teams continued to press, but time was against us and all too soon the final whistle blew. All in all, given the circumstance, the girls played their tired socks off. Important lesson learnt – don’t play two match back to back! Well done girls onwards and upwards.