Girls' Football Friendly v St Anne's
Razor-sharp Zara shoots down St Anne's
Holy Family 2 St Anne's 0
After a lovely week of bright, sunny weather, the clouds returned for our final scheduled football match of the season as we hosted our friends from St Anne's in Chertsey. As is customary on our postage-stamp pitch, we had some furious pre-match preparations to make as the council had not re-marked the pitch as promised. Undaunted, we whizzed around with the cones and the perimeter of the pitch was laid out. A quick 'untangling' of the twisted goalpost was also necessary and then we were set to go.
As we gathered around to sort out the starting formation, I noticed a slight problem as we had 12 players all in outfield kit. "Goalkeeper?" I politely enquired. The ensuing silence resembled an empty library on a Bank Holiday and, as the tumbleweed blew across the pitch, Chloe raised her hand and donned the gloves. "Marvellous Chloe...goalkeepers need to use their hands, shout a lot and blame everyone else when anything happens" was my learned advice.
As we lined up for the kick-off we looked remarkably well organised. I pondered on whether it was the sparkling new yellow and royal kit and raised this theory with Lily's brother, my self-appointed assistant. "I've been training Lily for an hour every evening in the garden" he replied..."and the kit looks nice" he concluded. Only time would tell and we didn't have to wait long. From the kick-off we powered forward, players buzzing around like excitable bees in a nectar-rich garden. Lily's one to one coaching was really paying dividends as she was everywhere, Joey was displaying a range of clever passes, Alicia was her usual non-stop, all-action self and Sophie was proving a threat to both opponents and team-mates with her powerful striking of the ball. Up front Zara was looking exceptionally sharp and at the back, Eleanor and Stevie had the defensive door well and truly locked, bolted and shuttered. Behind them Chloe had taken my advice and was talking a lot - it's one of the key skills of goalkeeping.
Ten minutes into the first half our constant pressure finally paid off. Following a penalty-area scramble, Joey played the ball back into the danger area and Zara pounced to strike the ball past the excellent St Anne's keeper and into the empty goal. 1-0 to Holy Family and it was well deserved. Buoyed by our goal, we kept attacking and the St Anne's defence was creaking like the floorboards of a very spooky house. Surely it was only a matter of time before we got the second? As we were discussing this on the touchline, the ref blew his whistle and pointed to the invisible spot awarding a penalty to Holy Family for a handball. Zara stepped up and smashed the kick against the crossbar. I winced...not at the miss but more at the thought that the re-built goalpost would collapse under the power of the strike. Amazingly, the goalpost remained intact as did our 1-0 lead. Halftime soon followed.
During the break we re-shuffled the team to make use of our packed subs bench. Chloe was clearly enjoying her role in goal as she volunteered to stay there for the second half. "Keep a clean sheet and we win Chloe" was my advice this time. Everyone was confident and we all agreed that a second goal may well seal the victory. Once again we started the half like a whirlwind and St Anne's were struggling to cope. The goalkeeper performed more heroics to keep us out then Zara broke clear, latching on to a through-ball by Joey and slotted it calmly past the rapidly advancing one-girl brick wall in goal. 2-0 to Holy Family and a chance to breath slightly more easily on the sidelines. Ellie, Caitlin, Kelsey-Jane and Harriet were all contributing fully to a strong second half performance and then Chloe performed two really good pieces of goalkeeping as St Anne's pushed hard for a goal. The second, a point blank block from a fierce shot, kept our lead intact.
Despite creating more clear chances, we could not add to our 2-0 lead and the game ended. This was an excellent performance and a very good win over a team containing some strong players. We have progressed so much since September and all the girls should feel very proud of their achievement - this first win was a long time coming but was well worth the wait.
Thank you as always to our fantastic parent supporters on the touchline - your constant cheering and encouragement has inspired the girls. I hope you enjoyed the victory as much as the players.
Team - Chloe (GK), Eleanor (Capt), Stevie, Lily, Joey, Alicia, Sophie, Zara, Caitlin, Ellie, Kelsey-Jane, Harriet