Third week running on the road for the girls. It’s getting colder now too, so make sure everyone starts wrapping up! Slightly later kick-off than we are used too but it was the 2nd round of the County Cup. The girls were ready and in high spirits and knew this would be a very hard and a competitive game. After our quick team talk, we saw our captain Abbie in goal as usual, hyped and ready for another game as they are coming thick and fast. Our back three for the start of the game were Eleanor, Lois and Immy. A very energetic and balanced defence with ball playing ability and amazing physicality. In the midfield we had Bonnie and Grace in the wide positions and Poppy in the heart of midfield to try and control the tempo of the game. Leading the line we had a new combination of Tianna and Zoe, to deal with the Longwell Green defence. As our impact player we had Anna and Rosie ready to come on and change the game!

The match started and it was bit cagey. Both teams were trying to find their feet in the game, but in my opinion we had control of both halves with Longwell Green having counter-attack moments in the game after we were attacking and the transition lead them to have chances. The game was very physical from the start, both sides showing determination to win the ball and keep possession. Bonnie running down the right hand side and getting the better of both their defender and their winger a few times. Tianna battling with their centre back and a few times getting away from her. Our three defenders doing their best to keep Longwell Green attackers quiet and playing balls out from all angles trying to find Tianna, Zoe and Grace. The first goal came from Bonnie running down the right hand side, Tianna and Zoe both occupying defenders, creating space for Grace to drop back and receive the cross from Bonnie in the box with a cool and composed finish from Grace, breaking the deadlock. After this the game opened up bit more and Longwell Green restarted knowing they needed to get back into this game. Unfortunately, shortly after they had a chance and was a good finish into the bottom corner which Abbie couldn’t get to. I know she was disappointed after having many weeks of keeping a clean sheet. After this minor setback we knew we had to get back into the game. We saw both Anna and Rosie come on to change the game. After, the changes we saw Tianna on the scoresheet again, a well worked goal and led to Tianna having a shot in the box and the Longwell Green keeper had no chance. We were back in the lead. Again and again we kept breaking the Longwell Green defence. It was a great battle between our attackers versus their defenders. Not long after we saw Tianna get swiped out by the Longwell Green centre back but she managed to keep the ball get back up and a cool finish. Unfortunately, a little help from the referee, apparently the whistle was blown for the foul when he should’ve played the advantage. Any other day that would’ve been a goal but unfortunately it didn’t go our way. Best thing is it didn’t stop Tianna or the girls and they kept doing what they do best and keep their heads up. Shortly after, we saw the Longwell Green centre back trying to progress with the ball and Immy came out and put a stop to that move. Winning the ball fairly, but unfortunately was called back as the Longwell Green player didn’t get back up but if play would’ve continued I think she would’ve had a clear run to goal. This was the last action of the half. We had many chances and came in 2-1 up but still a very shaky game.

Start of the second half was cagey again like the start of the match. Took about 10 minutes for the girls to get back into rhythm. Grace had a few chances, amazing runs from Bonnie, Rosie closing down Longwell Green players, the defence being solid as usual and Lois was in midfield trying to get a hold of the game. We had a few more chances at goal and Abbie pulled off some saves but was nothing to worry about. Amazing play from Abbie as usual, commanding her box and coming out to clear the ball. Towards the end we saw Longwell Green score a well worked goal unfortunately, slotted into the corner like the first goal, was a good finish. But the girls kept going and the resilience of the team was amazing. We had a chance from Grace that hit the post, chance from Poppy from the edge and Lois and Zoe gambling on a miss kick and through on goal, unfortunately hitting the post, but cannot blame her because while she was running she received an elbow to the chest which would put off anyone. This saw us draw the game and had to go straight to penalties. Me and Tom couldn’t have been any happier with that performance and more training and more games tough as this will help us improve even more. This is the beauty of competitive games and penalty is pot luck. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our day. But we will back in the County Cup next year and will come back even better!

Star Player went to Grace, after being ill and busy for a couple weeks she came back with a goal and well taken penalty. With her no-die attitude and not giving up, always trying and holding her own every game she plays! Sunday coming we have St Aldhelms in the league which we are still unbeaten in and the girls will want to keep it like that. We are at home so back to building the goals! (YAY!) Well done to all the girls and thanks to the parents for supporting. As I said before, the result doesn’t seem fair because of a dodgy decision but that happens in football even with VAR! But the girls were in high spirits and it won’t get them down, I know that for a fact.

Written by Jamil Khan (U12 coach)