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Hitchin Hearts Belles Under 14
Match Report 2008 - 2009

Sunday, 15th March 2009

Hitchin Hearts Belles U14 1 v 2 Luton Town U14

00774 hits since March 21, 2009

A battling performance saw Hitchin Hearts go down 1-2 at home to Luton on Sunday. This was Hitchinís strongest showing by far in the 4 games against Luton this season and the team should be proud of their efforts and confident for the remaining games of the season. The performance did come at a cost as first choice goalkeeper Alex suffered a broken wrist and will miss the remainder of the season.

Nigel decided to start with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Alex in goal and Ilana, Chloe, Emily and Helen in defence. Leah was asked to play between the back four and the midfield quartet of Abigail, Sarah, Molly and Sophie with Elodie up front. The intention was for Elodie to get close support in attack in particular from Sarah. It was wonderful to see Christie back in the team and she started as substitute.

Luton started the game stronger creating most of the early pace and Hitchin was forced to defend in numbers. Somewhat against the run of play Hitchin nearly scored after 4 minutes; Elodie breaking free to fire across the face of the Luton goal. Almost immediately the visitors should have been ahead, a Luton striker firing wide with just Alex to beat. Hitchin was by now coming more into the game but the clearer chances were coming to Luton. On 13 minutes another glorious opportunity went begging with a Luton striker blasting the ball high over the bar from just 3 yards out!.

Then on 16 minutes Hitchin made the breakthrough. Elodie received the ball in midfield and played a high ball towards the Luton goal. Sarah showed great determination and bravery in chasing the ball down and heading it into the goal in spite of the advancing goalkeeper. It was a wonderful goal that showed the value of chasing all 50/50 opportunities. It was also the first headed goal this reporter has seen by a Hitchin player!

Luton responded strongly and continued to create chances. Alex was called upon to bravely smother the ball at the feet of an advancing attacker. The pressure was to tell with Luton equalising on 19 minutes. It was an excellent goal; the Luton number 9 showing great pace taking the ball along the left wing, cutting inside to score at the near post. The game continued at high tempo with both sides going close to scoring. Abigail had a half chance and Elodie was unlucky not to get on the end of excellent crosses from Sophie and Sarah. Luton was however creating the better opportunities and from one of these Alex suffered her injury. On 29 minutes the ball fell to a Luton player in the 6 yard box, with just Alex to beat she hit the ball very hard and Alex produced an excellent instinctive save to push the ball wide for a corner. Unfortunately the impact of the ball had bent her wrist back and she left the field in distress. Whilst she did return to the fray as an outfield player, it was later found that she had broken her wrist in 2 places.

The injury forced a reorganisation with Sarah going in goal and Christie making her long awaited return to action. Sarah was immediately called upon to make two good saves to keep the score level at half-time.

The second half started with strong pressure from Luton. With resources limited by Alexís injury there needed to be constant adjustments of the formation and this weakened the teamsí efforts in the second half. Luton carried most of the threat and should have scored after 39 minutes but again the ball was hit straight at Sarah. On 42 minutes Luton did go ahead scoring with a header direct from a corner. As Luton pushed harder for more goals Emily, Chloe and Leah were called on repeatedly to break up attacks. As the half went on Hitchin carried less attacking threat and looked unlikely to equalise.

The game ended a 1-2, a very creditable performance by Hitchin. Without injuries and the reorganisations this necessitated, The Belles could well have got something from this game. Alex will be missed for the rest of the season and it stretches the teamsí dwindling resources further. The whole team should take credit and confidence from the performance. Particular credit should go to the 2 goalkeepers for keeping Luton down to only 2 goals. Sarah also had a super game in the first 30 minutes as an outfield player. In defence Emily had a particular fine game reading the threat well and making many important interceptions.

Hitchin goal-scorers: Sarah

Player of the match: Sarah

Report by: Dave Wrigley