Maidenhead U14As v Wallingford
It was looking good....
Home Counties Girls Under 14’s A League
Wallingford 5 Maidenhead 3
Sunday 12 March 2017
By Jim Taylor
MID-WAY through the second half, it was looking good for a last-game-of-the-season away win at Wallingford.
For a 20-minute spell, either side of half-time, the girls had bravely battled back from being two-goals down to be leading 3-2 and they had knocked a strong home team out of their stride.
Sadly, not for the first time this season, when the opposition rallied we could not keep them out and we ended with nothing to show for all our earlier endeavour and, at times, super- skilful hockey.
Maybe it’s physical fitness that’s lets us down? Or, perhaps, mental strength and powers of concentration to keep doing the simple things well when under pressure in the final period? Whatever the answer…it’s something for the coaches to consider during the summer break.
However, while we ponder the woes of Wallingford, it should be reported that there were also plenty of pluses to enjoy in our performance in what was a highly entertaining game in the rain.
The opening exchanges were very even with Amber slotting in well at centre half, when Hattie felt poorly in the warm-up, and up-front Tilly and Maddy were making positive runs without getting into shooting positions.
Then Wallingford took control and with their midfielders flooding forward and making good use of the width they won a string of short corners. The first was blocked, the second pushed wide, but the third left us wide open and they scored.
Five minutes later they did it again from another penalty set piece and we were 2-0 down. But not out. We began finding more width on the flanks and, also, as instructed, we counter-attacked with longer balls behind their defenders for us to run onto and attack.
The comeback started on 20 minutes with a shot saved from Tilda. Two minutes later a long ball from Tori from the right was met by Tilly who ran in on the advancing keeper and sweetly slotted the ball into the net.
Before half-time it was Jess’s turn to run into the D for another one-on-one with their keeper, but despite her best efforts, the shot was blocked.
After the break we maintained our momentum and scored twice in three minutes from two short corners, both injected by Lizzie and struck by Tilda.
Both hits went to the right and each time were rescued by Jess. The first went back to Tilda who in her typical swashbuckling style hammered it home. The second ended up in a bit of a melee and there was Lizzie to force it over the line, just.
This was when we were at our most potent with Jess making some lovely runs down the right, supported by Emily, while Holly, Lizzie and Tilda looked good in midfield.
Hattie had also bravely come back on to play from the start of the second half and Caroline made a confident debut as she stepped up from the Development Squad.
We carried on attacking with determined play by Evie and Jess up-front and it is fair to say Wallingford’s break-away equaliser with 15 minutes to go was rather against the run of play.
But the goal took the wind out of our sails and momentum was suddenly back with the home team.
In the final ten minutes Emily made some good saves – to cap an all-round confident performance – but was still beaten from two short corners, the last being a slick reverse switch which opened up the goal.
This game sort of summed up our season. We played some lovely hockey at times and have some super players – some very young – who should be proud of their performance, but we didn’t always get the success we deserved.
Next week we are streaming the girls slightly differently:
*All Year Nine girls have training at Windsor from 10am– 11.30.
*All Year Eight girls are up for selection for the Development Squad match v Surbiton at Windsor with a meet-up time at 10.45am.
Team selection for the Year Eight only Development Squad match will be coming out from Jacqui in the next 24 hours.