All of the BLUFC home fixtures were cancelled today due to effects of the weather on the pitches, as were many away fixtures. Nonetheless, U15 luckily got a game, even if it was wet, windy and squelchy.
The match started slowly but BLUFC were soon pushing up the pitch and dominating possession.
BLUFC opened the scoring with a beautiful bit of passing teamwork, scything through the Mangoes’ defence: Anna cutting in around the back, to Mayca who did a one-two with Caitlyn before tucking the ball away.
After that exemplary bit of Barcelona-esque football, the hordes of watching fans were in high spirits, but there then followed half an hour of frustration. Plenty of opportunities and shots on target (and slightly off the target, peppering the air around the posts and coming off the crossbar once) but perhaps BLUFC were admiring the Mangoes’ dayglo-orange goalkeeper’s kit, as almost everything between the posts seemed to be aimed straight at the goalie who, to her credit, didn’t do much wrong, and did pull off some more challenging saves and pushes-wide too.
Emma, Charity, Chloe and Ellie across the back in defence had a very variable game: some howlers, especially on the wings, but by and large every oopsie was more than atoned for. Chloe got left standing a few times, but soon clawed the ball back. Ellie seemed to have her boots on the wrong feet because, despite trying to blame the wind, some of her long balls up the pitch were alternately slicing or hooking and generally heading wherever they felt like (some were pretty good too, though).
The Mango counter-attacks that got through the defence were well covered by Ruby or Chloe in goal, with Ruby coming out well and Chloe doing her usual suicidal dives at players’ feet to smother the ball.
Finally, with the prospect of Mexican waves in the crowd looming, Hannah got bored with the game of catch with the goalkeeper and curled a shot in.
Mayca showed some impressive skill by managing to re-do her hair yet still making a tackle and winning the ball, taking the ball down the pitch with her hands still busy styling her barnet.
Another great bit of football soon followed, with Mayca, Cait, Anya and Anna combining to thread the ball through the defence, with Cait taking the final honours on that move.
Emily, recently arrived during the January transfer window from Keynsham, did a great sliding tackle, the likes of which have been the bane of BLUFC’s attack in the past. Good to see some proper sliding tackles in the royal blue of Bristol Ladies at last (that wasn’t Emily’s last of the match either).
At the other end of the pitch, Anya hammered in a screamer of a shot in from edge of box (“full of sound and fury” to blatantly steal the Shakespearian reference from the Bristol Free School boys’ football write-up this week) that the goalkeeper had no chance against.
There was a great bit of “playing the advantage” from the referee as well (could’ve awarded the foul, but let play continue), not sure we’ve ever seen that before at this level.
Half time and the match stood at 4-nil.
The second half felt colder and even more wind-swept, either that or the cold had seeped through the various pairs of thermal socks etc. that the myriad of supporters crowded along the pitch were wearing.
Olivia and Sophie were on the pitch together up the right hand side and, during occasional breaks in their conversation, burst forward up that wing and combined together well. Madison, as ever, showed some great skill on the ball and controlled the midfield well (often being the only bridging player between our back-four “deee-fence” and the rest of the team forming the “offff-ence”, seeing as the team seemed to be taking the American Football approach of two specialist teams playing separately!).
Mayca took a great shot from the edge of the box, bending the ball in (like she’s been threatening to for the past two matches).
Anya decided to go for the award for most injuries in the match, collecting a pair of nasty stud-gouges down her thigh (ouch: someone needs to change their studs!) and then a full-force ball from Emma in the face. Didn’t stop her though.
Olivia showed her skill again with an incisive cross across the box: Anna latched onto it with a perfect volley, taking the score to six nil. Olivia and Sophie further showed off their footwork skills with an ongoing game of “kick divots of mud at each other and anyone else in range” which kept some of the younger fans entertained for a while.
Volleys from Olivia’s in-balls were apparently in-fashion, as Madison then did a great one from an Olivia corner which only just skipped wide, to a collective “ooooooohhhh!” from the coach-loads of travelling fans.
Mayca and Hannah exploded up the field on the break, taking the ball up the pitch together: Mayca found herself one-on-one against the keeper, took it around her to beat her and tapped the ball in for her hat-trick and the team’s seventh.
Bristol Ladies pushed right up the pitch towards the end of the match (maybe it was something that goalkeeper Chloe said?) – see attached photos.
Comedy moment of the match went to Ellie (against stiff competition of the crossbar challenges, mud-kicking and stopping-ball-with-face antics). She’d been pushing up through the second half and taking most of the throw-ins on the right-hand side of the pitch, so in the dying minutes of the game, with the ball out of play, she ran up to take the throw. Sophie, who’d picked the ball up to throw it, misunderstood Ellie’s weaving jog through the Mango players and took the throw in, throwing it to the option that Ellie had presented. Either as a result of the shock of this, or possibly (as Steve suggested) a particularly active worm rearing up to trip her, or it was that sniper hid in the bushes, Ellie suddenly went down like a sack of potatoes for no adequately explained reason, much to everyone’s amusement.
Full-time score: 0-7 to the visiting Bristol Ladies. Very enjoyable match for all involved, despite the weather, and the amount of football pitch carried home in the backs of everyone’s cars.
Players of the Match: Anja & Mayca
PS: I may have been slightly exaggerating about the number of travelling fans at the match 😉