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Hitchin Hearts Belles Under 14
Match Report 2008 - 2009

Sunday, 30th Novemebr 2008

Hitchin Hearts Belles †0 v 3† Garston Ladies

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Hitchin Hearts Belles bowed out of the County Cup at their first hurdle, losing 0-3 to division 1 side Garston. It was a lacklustre performance which was somewhat understandable given the horrendous conditions; freezing rain, strong wind and heavy underfoot.

For the second game in succession, Hitchinís resources were stretched with only 12 players to call on, for such a large squad this was disappointing. With Kerry back in goal, the four starting in defence were Emily, Chloe, Helen and Ilana. Midfield saw Alex, Sarah, Carmen and Bethany with Sophie and Maddie in attack. Leah was the lone substitute for the early stages of the match. The game started in a similar fashion to most of Hitchinís games this season in that is they gifted the opposition an early goal! With only 2 minutes gone a Garston attacker was allowed to progress into the Hitchin penalty area and to get her shot away to score. Hitchin responded well and the game settled down with few goal opportunities for either side. Maddie, Carmen and Sophie exchanged some neat passing to almost create an opening on 6 minutes. With most of the play in midfield it was a close contest.

As the half progressed Garston took greater control and they enjoyed the greater possession and territory. They forced no less than 10 corners in this period but only once seriously threatened to score, Helen producing an excellent goal-line clearance. Hitchin did have some attacking play, Sarah going close with a snap shot on 25 minutes. The best chance of the half fell to Carmen who showed great commitment in a run on the Garston goal but her solo effort was ended when she was sandwiched by three defenders. Most of the goal scoring opportunities were falling to Garston and Kerry had to make an excellent save on 30 minutes.

One goal down at half time and all to play for. Similar to previous weeks there had been little to choose between the 2 sides and the game was certainly there for the winning but Hitchin needed to up their game and keep their concentration. The second half did not start promisingly; Garston had 2 excellent scoring chances through some loose defending, Kerry saving one and the other blazed wide. Hitchin almost equalised after 42 minutes; Carmen trying to lob the goal keeper from distance but her effort was wide. Straight from this attack Garston scored their second goal, Kerry parrying a shot and then grabbing the ball as it going into the goal, it was not totally clear if the ball had crossed the line but it was awarded. Three minutes later Garston scored their third. The ball was played into the Hitchin area and the game resembled pin ball with the last touch a tap in goal from 2 yards; it really needed a decisive interception from the Hitchin defence.

Hitchin now enjoyed their best period of the game. Sarah was brought down on the edge of the area but Carmenís strike was saved. Hitchin forced a series of corners, from one of these Sarah almost scored with a clever sidekick. Then came a moment of controversy; Sophie received the ball on the edge of the Garston area and she took it past the goalkeeper who clearly pulled her shirt. It was a clear penalty but the referee and linesman both missed the obvious. Hitchin continued to pressurise with Alex and Sophie combining well with the resultant shot wide. With the game almost over Ilana produced an excellent instinctive shot from the edge of the area which went just past the goalpost, so close to securing her goal bonus!

The game ended 0-3 and on balance of play Garston deserved the victory but Hitchin certainly competed on an even basis. Whilst no player of the match was awarded there were several good contributions; Carmen was tireless in her efforts and could have scored, Alex and Bethany showed excellent commitment in midfield and Kerry was as usual strong in goal.

Report by: Dave Wrigley