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Hitchin Hearts Belles Under 14
Match Report 2008 - 2009

Sunday, 1st February 2009

Hitchin Hearts Belles U14 3 v 0 Hemel Hempstead Ladies U14

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Hitchin Hearts Belles made it 2 wins in a row with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Hemel Hempstead. The Hemel team was at a serious disadvantage with only 9 players available whereas Hitchin Belles could field an almost full compliment of players with 14 available. Alex again took on the goalkeeping duties with Ilana, Chloe, Carmen and Leah starting in defence. The midfield quartet was Abigail, Sophie, Molly and Maddie with Bethan and Sarah in attack. This was possibly Bethanís last game for the Belles before she joins Luton. The 3 players starting as substitutes were Helen, Bethany and Elodie. It was great to see Elodie back after 3 months absence through a serious knee injury.

The conditions were very cold with a strong wind blowing straight down the pitch and for the first half Hemel Hempstead the significant advantage of having the wind at their backs. In spite of their numerical disadvantage, Hemel started the game better than Hitchin. They nearly took the lead on 7 minutes; Alex rushed off her line to clear the ball but her clearance only reached a Hemel player whose long range shot was wide. On 15 minutes another great chance for Hemel, an excellent passing move should have punished Hitchin but the shot went wide from 10 yards. One minute later a timely intervention by Chloe stopped another attack. Hemel then forced a series of corners and at this stage Hitchin were restricted to playing on the break.

Having weathered the first 20 minutes or so Hitchin Belles began to take control of the game and started to enjoy greater territory and possession. On 27 minutes Hitchin won a penalty. Abigail had possession in the Hemel penalty area and a defender made a sliding tackle with studs up, whilst Abigail was not hurt it was certainly a dangerous tackle. Sarah took the penalty and fired confidently into the top left hand corner of the net. On 30 minutes Molly took the ball up the left beating a defender and providing a super cross to Sophie who just could not get good enough connection on the ball. Then on 35 minutes a corner to Hitchin was whipped in by Sarah and Abigail went close to scoring.

Half time arrived with Hitchin holding a 1-0 lead. Hemel had certainly created more in the first 20 minutes but the last 15 minutes had all been with the home side and 1-0 was probably a fair reflection of the game. For the second half, Hitchin had the wind at their backs. With Bethan injured in the first half, a reorganisation saw Helen and Sarah going upfront and Elodie making her long awaited return on the left wing.

The second half started as the first had finished with Hitchin pressing for another goal. Helen supplied the ball to Elodie whose clever through ball forced the first corner of the period. From this corner Sarah had a good shooting chance but fired straight at the keeper. Hemel continued to look dangerous on the break and on 6 minutes a goal mouth scramble almost gifted them the equaliser but brave goalkeeping from Alex saw her claiming the ball from the feet of a striker. On 42 minutes Hemel won a free-kick in a dangerous position on the right hand side of the penalty area. The free-kick was hit high and was saved by Alex, albeit with a fumble, to give a corner to Hemel.

Hitchin had upped their game since half-time and were creating more attacking play and it was only to be a matter of time before the pressure was to tell. Helen and Abigail exchanged passes but Abigailís shot was blocked on the line. Then on 51 minutes Hitchin extended their lead; Sarah playing a great through ball to Elodie who hit her shot well past the advancing goalkeeper. Almost immediately Bethan went close with a shot hitting a defender and looping high towards goal but was well claimed by the keeper. On 58 minutes Carmen extended the lead to 3-0, confidently firing home from another Sarah through ball. One minute later there was another golden chance for Hitchin, Bethan supplying Carmen whose near post flick was well saved. On 61 minutes Carmen passed to Bethan who scored well past the keeper only for it to be called offside. All the play was now coming from Hitchin who were hungry for more goals. The Hitchin defence was looking secure and one moment epitomised the growing confidence of their play; Ilana made a great tackle to stop a Hemel attack and then she played an excellent ball through to Bethan turning defence to attack in a flash.

The game finished 3-0 to Hitchin and this result was enough to lift them off the bottom of the table for the first time this season. Whilst it was a strong performance, particularly in the second half, recognition should be given to Hemel Hempstead for competing so well with only 9 players. For Hitchin there were strong performances from many players; Alex looked confident in goal, the defence was largely untroubled and Sarah gave an excellent performance covering a lot of ground and scoring the penalty and supplying both of the other goals. Player of the match went to Ilana who without doubt enjoyed her best performance for Hitchin Belles.

Hitchin goal-scorers: Sara (pen), Elodie, Carmen

Player of the match: Ilana

Report by: Dave Wrigley