A dogged and determined performance from the girls delivers a fantastic win
By Mark Taylor
On a remarkably warm spring day with Caribbean weather settled over the UK the girls headed down to take on Aldershot and Farnham away. Having been beaten at home early in the season 4-2 we knew this was going to be a very tough game, but one we needed to win. When we arrived the enormity of the task dawned as it was apparent the A&F team were nearly all year 9 and we were all year 8 less one player and their warm up routine was very slick!
As expected the game was ferocious from the start with both teams keen to draw first blood. The first half saw some lovely open play with the ball being pushed wide enabling Martha to make some amazing dashes down the wing with two Aldershot players appearing to be stuck to her with Velcro, but still making it to the back line before heading along it towards the goal. How she did not get a short on several of these attacks was not clear. Other probing attacks came from the rest of the forwards and mid field. The A&F coach could be heard mumbling “boy they are quick” as the Andover girls sliced through their defensive lines.
One such attack in the 17th minute saw Polly one on one with the keeper and unphased she put the ball firmly in the back of the net. The elation was short lived as within a minute A&F had secured a short corner and the ball was heard ricocheting of the back board from a very solid shot that beat the defending through sheer pace. 1-1 at half time was a fitting result as both teams were very even.
The second half saw an increase in intensity from A&F that had Andover pinned mainly to their half with their D in constant challenge as A&F looked to try to take the lead. The defence played an absolute blinder standing firm against a seemingly never ending series of short corners which culminated in a flick being awarded. Hearts in hands, as Josie faced her first ever flick, the tension mounted. The shout from the coach to Josie to make herself bigger saw her inflate herself like the Michelin man in an attempt to make her 4 foot nothing appear much bigger than it is. As the ball narrowly squeezed through her defences a sigh of relief went up as the goal was disallowed as the striker had taken 3 paces before hitting the ball in.
This seemed to cajole the Andover team and injected a new leash of determination in the forwards. With A&F pressing hard, we made best use of pushing forward deep behind the A&F defenders looking for a long pass to get us one on one against the keeper. Unfortunately despite several chances we could not break the stalemate and with a constant barrage of shots being defended in our D the pressure and nerves from the Andover parents was palpable. With just 10 minutes to go Andover pressed hard and en masse, resulting in a great pass across the goal finding Jess camped on the left hand post, ruthlessly slotting the ball home. The last ten minutes were tense as both teams upped a gear yet again with Andover determined not to let the win escape them and A&F determined to try to get the draw. As the time ticked away, the umpires were subtly reminded that the game was due to end as the Andover coach counted his players down to the final whistle.
What a cracking game. The level of commitment and determination was just amazing, with what felt like 30 shots at goal and at least 15 short corners defended by Andover we came away with a very well deserved victory. Awesome girls! Only three more matches to go…….