After weeks and weeks of torrential rain, the clouds eventually parted with perfect timing for our first scheduled football match of 2014. Fortunately, the postage stamp pitch had absorbed the water fairly well and although the surface was heavy, the scene was set for an exciting game. Ongar Place are a strong team, captained by an outstanding individual who earlier this season smashed in a hat trick against our boys team, so we knew we were in for a tough challenge. Pre-match tactics centred around playing to our strengths, closing down their star player whenever she got the ball and employing our secret weapon (the quick throw in) as often as possible.
In the early stages of the game we looked a little nervous and as rusty as an abandoned car lying in a scrap yard after months of heavy rain but we gradually began to get into our stride. A couple of half-chances seemed to give us a boost of confidence and we suddenly began to play. Joey started skipping past tackles, Alicia was zipping around like a dynamo and Kelsey-Jane adjusted her sights and began kicking the ball towards the Ongar goal rather than in the directionof the M25...we were getting on top and when we get a roll on, it usually leads to a goal. Right on cue, a quick throw-in from Ella found Joey and she controlled the ball, spun and struck the ball powerfully into the goal. Shortly afterwards we were 2-0 ahead as Joey once again escaped the Ongar defence and beat the goal keeper with an unstoppable shot. Everything was looking good. In defence, Emilia and Tiffany were rock solid, snuffing out the Ongar attackers whenever they approached the penalty box. In midfield, Joey was getting fantastic support from Ellie, Ella and Philippa and all this hard work meant that Alex was largely unemployed in goal during the first period. With half time approaching, we then scored the goal of the game. A sweeping move down the right wing led to Ella passing inside to Joey who then played a square pass to Alicia who was hovering (like a UFO?) on the edge of the Ongar box. Quick as a flash, Alicia hit a thunderbolt drive which shot high into the goal despite the despairing effort of the goalkeeper who actually got her fingertips to the ball. 3-0 to Holy Family...a first half successfully navigated.
The half-time chat revolved around ensuring we continued with the high work rate and maintained concentration. We knew if we gave a half chance away, they were likely to pounce and so the secondhalf begun as the first had ended, with Holy Family on the attack. Two or three golden chance to score a fourth were missed before the game took a slight twist. A move down the left hand side broke down and somehow Ongar squeezed the ball forward to their star player on opposite side of the pitch. She dribbled past two players before unleashing an unstoppable drive past Alex into the goal. 3-1 and Ongar tails were now up. How would we respond? was the question runing through my mind. The answer was positively as we launched more attacks. Our hard work was rewarded shortly afterwards as Joey completed her hat trick after a bit of a penalty area scramble. 4-1 with 10 minutes left appeared to be a winning lead. Ongar's star player made the nerves jangle again with 6 minutes left as she pounced on a wayward throw-in to slot the ball in the corner of the goal bringing the score back to 4-2 but fortunately for us, it proved to be a little bit too late to launch a major fight back. The girls skilfully managed the final few minutes for a well deserved 4-2 victory. Applause all round on the touchlines and plenty of respect shown by both teams. It was a pleasure to be part of and hopefully all the girls on both teams have been suitably inspired to want to play again. Well done to all.
Team: Alex Smith (GK), Tiffany Smith, Emilia Olah-Pap, Philippa Holt, Ella Stoner, Kelsey-Jane Donnachie, Alicia Beams (Captain), Joey Siow, Ellie Ford