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Hitchin Hearts Belles Under 14
Match Report 2008 - 2009

Sunday, 26th October 2008

Hemel Hempstead U14  5 v 2  Hitchin Hearts Belles

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With many of the squad unavailable, it was a new look team that took to the field on Sunday against Hemel Hempstead with Leah and Bethany making their first starts of the season and Molly making her debut for Hitchin. The Belles started with a 4-5-1 formation with Kerry in goal and Katie, Ruby, Chloe and Leah in defence. The midfield consisted of Helen, Bethany and Hollie in the centre with Sophie and Beth on the wings supporting Molly in attack. Hitchin had no substitutes to call on for this game.

The game started in calamitous fashion for Hitchin who went 2-0 down in the space of only 2 minutes! Played at a frenetic pace the midfield could not get hold of the ball leaving the defence exposed and Hemel punished the uncertainty. In fact the early stages of the game were totally dominated by the home side and the score line could have been worse but for some strong goalkeeping from Kerry. Hitchin won a corner in the 10th minute and this represented their first attack of the game and from then on they started to settle down into the game. On 14 minutes Hitchin got a goal back, Helen playing the ball through to Sophie whose shot was saved by the keeper only for the rebound to be helped in by a defender.

2-1 and Hitchin was right back in the game but it was important now to consolidate and not concede. Hemel was continuing to create more and strong interceptions were needed by Chloe and Ruby to clear attacks. Unfortunately Hemel extended their advantage on 24 minutes. Hitchin consistently failed to pick up short corners and one such situation resulted in free shot which Leah bravely blocked on the goal line only to see the follow-up put away. Almost immediately it was 4-1, Hemel on the break leaving the defence exposed. So twice in the game Hitchin had conceded 2 goals in very quick succession, an indication of lack of concentration?. As the first half drew to a close Hitchin was getting more and more into the game, Bethany and Beth combining well for Beth to shoot and nearly score. At the other end the dependable Kerry made one of several brave interceptions at the feet of an attacker to prevent further damage.

4-1 at half time, disappointing as the difference between the sides was small. Nigel made some tactical changes moving to a 4-3-3 formation with Sophie, Beth and Molly forming the attack. The midfield was given clear instructions to stay tighter to the defence and to support them more closely. The Hitchin Belles performance in the second half clearly vindicated the changes, with a much tighter display that should have bought better reward.

Whilst Hemel carried great threat on the break, it was somewhat against the run of play that they extended the lead further to 5-1 after 44 minutes after another through ball left the defence stranded. Hitchin could have capitulated here, 5 goals conceded and most of the second half left, but they played with good aggression and shape to have the better of the remainder of the game. Sophie and Beth combined well in attack to create several good chances and on 53 minutes Beth made the score 5-2 with a strong shot to beat the keeper. More chances came to Hitchin; Helen, Molly and Sophie combining well to create an opportunity for Sophie, Beth had several good shooting opportunities without seriously testing their goalkeeper. The midfield was tacking hard and the defence looking stronger.

The game ended 5-2 and, considering the very poor start, it was overall a good performance. As with the previous game against Stevenage, the second half was very encouraging. Hitchin needs to start games tighter, it is very difficult to recover after conceding twice in the opening 2 minutes! Also the midfield needs to support the defence better; this was evident in the second half. Particular mention should again go to Kerry who made some good saves and claimed the ball from the feet of attackers on several occasions. It was good to Leah back who had a strong first half. The attacking trio of Molly, Sophie and Beth were linking up better and better as the game progressed. Player of the match went to Hollie for her 100% effort and commitment.

Hitchin goal-scorers: Sophie, Beth

Player of the match: Hollie

Report by: Dave Wrigley