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Hitchin Hearts Belles Under 14
Match Report 2008 - 2009

Sunday, 18th January 2009

Watford Ladies 0 v 1† Hitchin Hearts Belles

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Hitchin Hearts Belles started 2009 impressively securing their second win of the season by 0-1 away to Watford Ladies. It was a very close encounter with few goal scoring opportunities but the Belles thoroughly deserved this hard fought victory.

In bright dry conditions, ideal for football, it was a relief that Hitchin could field a full team. With regular goalkeeper Kerry lost to the equestrian world, Alex had to go in goal for the first half. Starting with a 4-5-1 formation, the defensive line-up consisted of Chloe, Carmen, Leah and Helen. Midfield had Abigail, Sarah, Maddie, Sophie and Molly with Bethan as low striker. Ilana started the game as substitute. The intention was for Molly and Sophie in particular to support Bethan in attack.

The first half was very keenly contested with a packed midfield. Watford played a defensive game and Hitchin was unable to spread the play and as a result there were very few goal scoring opportunities for either team. The first chance came on 15 minutes from a Watford corner, loose defending created an opening but a weak shot was cleared off the line by Helen. Two minutes later Hitchin broke well with Molly, Bethan and Sophie combining but a marginal offside decision was given. As the half progressed Watford gained more control and started to create some half chances; on 28 minutes Alex bravely claimed the ball at the feet of a Watford attacker and on 30 minutes she pulled off a nonchalant save of a long range shot with her foot. On 34 minutes a promising break by Watford was stopped by a timely tackle by Leah.

Half-time arrived at 0-0 and it was clear that one goal could well win it. The game had been very even, little needed to be changed but Hitchin needed to be more physical and imposing particularly in midfield. For the second half Sarah took on goalkeeping duties with Alex replacing her in midfield. The second half started and almost immediately Sarah had to pull off a good save with her feet to concede a corner. For the next 20 minutes Hitchin had their best period of the match. On 40 minutes Beth was put through clear on goal but the close attentions of the Watford defenders tracking back was enough to push her too wide to get her shot away. Hitchin then forced a succession of 6 corners which created few chances but Abigail did have a good opportunity beating one defender but to then shoot wide. At the other end Watford was creating some breaks but the Hitchin defence looked very sound with Chloe, Carmen and Leah all making good interceptions.

The defining moment of the game came on 52 minutes. Molly won the ball on the halfway line and passed to Bethan who played a clever lay-off to Sophie putting her through on goal. Sophie took carried the ball forward and shot from the edge of the penalty area, the Watford goalkeeper made a good save but could only parry the ball and Sophie was fast to respond, following up to bury the rebound. It was a very well worked goal which showed the reward of following up shots.

Watford responded strongly to going behind but whilst they were now enjoyed more territory and pressure they still were not creating a great deal. Then on 64 minutes The Belles had a huge slice of luck. A Watford forward found herself in a clear goal scoring position 8 yards out and her shot struck the left hand post and the ball then travelled right across the goalmouth and was cleared. On 68 minutes another break from Watford but Carmenís covering tackle again saved the day.

The game ended 0-1 to Hitchin and they should take confidence into next weeks encounter against Barnet. Particular mention should go to the 2 goalkeepers who kept a clean sheet. Also to Chloe, Carmen and Leah who were particularly strong in defence. Maddie in midfield had her best game of the season but player of the match was awarded to Sophie whose goal was so important.

Hitchin goal-scorers: Sophie

Player of the match: Sophie

Report by: Dave Wrigley