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Hitchin Hearts Belles Under 14
Match Report 2008 - 2009

Sunday, 16th Novemebr 2008

Hitchin Hearts Belles  3 v 4  Barnet Azzurri

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Hitchin Hearts Belles were edged out by the odd goal in seven on Sunday in a thrilling encounter with Barnet Azzuri. It was certainly Hitchin’s best performance of the season and they deserved to get something from the game but conceded the winning goal with the last kick of the game.

Nigel decided to go with a 4-5-1 formation starting with Kerry in goal, Leah, Chloe, Maddie and Helen in defence. The five in midfield were Ilana, Sarah, Carmen, Bethany and Sophie, with Beth the lone striker. Hitchin had 3 substitutes for the game; Alex, Christie and Molly. The game started with a high tempo midfield battle with both sides trying to carve out chances. Barnet had the better of the early exchanges forcing 3 corners and Kerry called upon to make saves on 2 minutes and 7 minutes. At the other end Beth and Sophie were linking up well but a combination of offsides and defending in numbers kept them at bay. As it has been so often this season Hitchin then conceded a soft goal. On 15 minutes straight from a Barnet striker broke through the brittle defence to score well from 20 yards. Hitchin almost responded immediately, Sophie supplying Beth but her shot from an acute angle was just wide.

Barnet now upped their game applying more pressure forcing several more corners. With Chloe and Alex battling well in the centre it was an excellent contest but then disappointingly Barnet doubled their lead. On 27 minutes from a corner, the ball was played into the Hitchin area and there seemed to be plenty of time to clear but the ball was allowed to run and run and it was eventually bundled into the net, a soft goal.

0-2 down and the game seemed to be following the pattern of previous weeks but how Hitchin responded! After 32 minutes Sarah won the ball in midfield and played a high ball over the opposition defence to Sophie who showed great composure firing the ball past the Barnet goalkeeper. The force was now with The Belles and they nearly equalised immediately; Beth passing to Sophie who took the ball wide but her shot was well saved. On 35 minutes another glorious chance for Hitchin, Sarah playing the ball through to Beth but again her shot was saved. Seconds later it was 2-2, Alex’s excellent pass finding Beth who fired home.

The half time whistle came at a good time for Barnet who were on the ropes. 2-2 and all to play for, there was no need to make many changes at half time. The second half started strongly for Hitchin and after 37 minutes they went ahead; Bethany supplying Beth who muscled her way through the Barnet defence to shoot strongly at the goalkeeper who could only parry the ball into the net. 3-2 ahead, Hitchin has scored 3 goals in 5 fabulous minutes, could they keep it up?

The game settled into a tight contest mostly in midfield with Hitchin looking threatening on the break; Helen providing 2 excellent through balls to Sophie and Beth, Alex supplying Carmen to shoot from 25 yards and Sarah crashing through 3 tackles to set up an excellent attacking position. As the second half passed the game became more and more tense with most of the territory and possession with Barnet and on 61 minutes they got the equaliser with with a fantastic shot from 25 yards hit high and hard into the top corner of the net. It was cruel for Hitchin who had battled so hard to get ahead, it was now important they did not concede a fourth. Carmen again went close on 65 minutes, her shot going agonisingly wide with the goalkeeper beaten. Well into time added on (where did that come from Phil??), Barnet agonisingly got the winner and it was another soft goal. The ball was played into the Hitchin area and 2 defenders failed to clear leaving Kerry exposed and allowing an easy chance to claim the winner. The game ended 3-4 to Barnet.

So it was disappointing to lose again but the manner of the defeat should give Hitchin great heart. They showed wonderful fighting spirit to go from 0-2 to 3-2. It was great to see Hitchin scoring goals, so well done to Sophie and Beth, but the team had good chances to score a lot more. The defence looked stronger and special mention should go to Chloe who made some outstanding interceptions, certainly her best game of the season. Also to Alex who battled so hard in midfield, at times going shoulder to shoulder with someone twice her size. No player of the match was awarded as this was an outstanding team performance.

Hitchin goal-scorers: Sophie, Beth (2)

Player of the Match: Team Award

Report by: Dave Wrigley