Hitchin Town Belles Under 12

Match Report 2007-2008

Sunday, 2nd March 2008

Hoddesdon Owls U12  2 v 2  Hitchin Town Belles U12

00819 hits since March 5, 2008

Goal Scorers: Elodie (2)

Match Report

The return game against Hoddesdon Owls proved to be just as close as the home encounter with the teams sharing the goals in an entertaining 2-2 draw. Through a combination of circumstances (training injuries, family commitments and not least Mothers Day!) Hitchin could only field 10 players whilst Hoddesdon had a full compliment and several substitutes. Sarah went in goal for the entire game, with a back four of Emily, Leah, Helen and Alysha. Midfield consisted of Ilana, Alex, Alice and Destiny, with Elodie a lone figure up front.

In dry but very windy conditions, Hitchin had the advantage in the first half of playing with the wind at their backs and down the significant slope of the pitch. Hitchin produced a disjointed performance, the numerical advantage of Hoddesdon was telling particularly in midfield. Chances did come though and Hitchin could have gone ahead after only 2 minutes with Elodie shooting over the bar from just outside the box. Further chances came at both ends, interspersed with a somewhat scrappy midfield battle and the deadlock was broken after 8 minutes. Alex, again proving to be very effective linking up with attack, played the ball through to Elodie who scored easily off the post. Whilst Hitchin created some good pressure and several resulting corners, they could not extend their lead. As the half went on Hoddesdon came increasingly into the game, with Emily and Leah having to work hard at the back. On 24 minutes Hoddesdon equalised with a simply worked goal. A corner from the left was played in low and a striker met the cross beautifully to drive the ball into the left hand corner.

Hoddesdon continued to press and a couple of minutes before half-time came a moment of controversy. Under pressure in defence the ball came back to Sarah who after some thought picked it up and the referee awarded an indirect free kick 8 yards out and to the left of the goal. Was it a deliberate back pass? It did not look like it but the referee adjudged it to be so. The Hitchin defence looked very uncertain how to handle the situation and the Hoddesdon free kick found a striker who, in spite of pressure from Helen, got her shot away but it was well saved by Sarah. Hoddesdon did take the lead in very unlucky circumstances. A speculative shot should have been easy for Sarah, but a combination of the bounce and the uneven surface defeated her and the ball found the back of the net. There was just enough time for one more Hitchin attack resulting in a great chance for Helen 6 yards out but a defender blocked her shot.

So in spite of Hitchin having some advantage with the wind and slope in the first half, they found themselves 2-1 behind at half time. With the numerical disadvantage it had been a struggle to link up midfield with Elodie in attack. For the second half it was important to the defence to push up whenever possible to help the midfield.

The second half started in a similar manner with Hoddesdon enjoying more possession but Hitchin looked more organised and committed compared with the first half. Sarah was exceptional in goal, coming out on numerous occasions to stop attacks and also clearing her area effectively. The Hitchin defensive four also stepped up, all tackling well and trying to press forward whenever possible. Hitchin’s equaliser came after 44 minutes and what a goal! Sarah cleared the ball and found Elodie on the half way line. She brought the ball down and beat one player taking the ball out towards the left wing before cutting back inside with players around her and striking the ball cleanly from more than 20 yards over the goalkeeper and off the far post.

Hoddesdon almost responded immediately with great link-up play in midfield but the resultant shot went inches wide. Shortly after a defensive mix up on the edge of the Hitchin area presented them with another glorious chance but again the shot went just wide of the post. Hoddesdon were having their best period of the game but Hitchin was still creating opportunities. Elodie, again played through by Alex, hit another strong shot, which brought a good fingertip save from their goalkeeper. Elodie took the corner but again no teammate could get on the end. This was a feature of the game; Hitchin had 7 corners and could not create a single real chance from them, definitely an area to work on. The last couple of minutes belonged to Hoddesdon who had two more excellent chances to seal the win but some gritty defending and a goalmouth clearance from Alysha kept the score level.

An excellent result for 10 player Hitchin. The performance improved a great deal in the second half and to score the only goal in this period against the elements was impressive. Sarah takes huge credit for a truly outstanding performance, certainly the best goalkeeping of the season. Alex again impressed in midfield and of course Elodie once more in goal scoring form up front (24 goals for the season). In a pretty good performance from the defence, Leah stood out with her aggressive tackling and willingness to carry the ball forward.

Player of the Match: Sarah

Manager's Award: Leah