Andover Frustrated by an understrength Alton
By Mark Taylor
In what was a very frustrating match, with far too many simple mistakes that were quickly seized on by a determined understrength Alton team, Andover just did not get it together. Other than for brief periods where their skills shone through the team made life very hard for themselves playing up and down the middle and overworking the ball in the D.
All the girls looked tired and as a team they lacked the drive and determination that we normally see from them. Where they did work hard to get the ball, small errors meant more often than not they gave the ball back. Andover had some lovely periods where hopes were raised, but despite some great probing attacks the girls just could not get the ball in to the back of the net. Heads dropped when Alton took the lead from a ball that looped, in slow motion, over the head of Josie off a deflected shot and despite a valiant effect by her to turn and bat it off the line the ball beat her.
Both teams continued to press before a perfect drive down the right wing, followed by a perfect pass across the front of the goal from Martha, found Jess in the right spot on the left hand post able to slot it home. Half time 1-1.
A good speaking to at half time saw the girls come out with more determination and they started to show some of the great team work and skill we are accustomed to, but Alton were equally determined if not more so. The attacks at both ends mounted but continued to be rebuffed by some great defending, in particular Gwen and Josie were on fire and saved the team from further embarrassment.
Andover, in the form of Liv, drew next blood with the sixth shot at goal in a series of strikes and clearances finally beating the Alton keeper and defenders. Asked by Fran why I was not smiling as we had just scored and taken the lead, Lucy provided the answer for me “probably because we are not safe yet” and how true that unfortunately proved to be as Alton once again upped their game and drew even. Polly and Tianna put up a great spirited fight in the midfield, despite having been at county training all morning and clearly feeling the effects of their work out, but Andover just could not capitalise on their well-earned chances. The Andover defence also held strong, rebuffing some very determined attacks that caused my blood pressure and heart rate to rise to unhealthy levels on far too many occasions.
So although it was a disappointing result given that Alton were a player down, on reflection we managed a draw against a resurgent Alton that beat top of the league last week and beat us 3-2 in our first encounter. The league pole position has slipped slightly further away as Fleet move 4 points ahead of us, but we retain second place for now, with some difficult games coming up. We need to break with run of draws and must beat Camberley in the next encounter to retain this position as they trail us by just 1 point. Well done girls.
Players’ players were Josie and Tiana, but Gwen got coach’s choice today for her gutsy dogged performance in defence.