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Hitchin Hearts Belles Under 10
Match Report 2009 - 2010

Saturday, 24th April 2010


Hitchin Hearts Belles 1 v 3 St Albans City Youth (AET)



01025 hits since April 25, 2010

The players and supporters of the Belles went through the whole range of emotions during this HGFPL Cup Final before being cruelly robbed of their first ever trophy by a controversial refereeing decision whilst leading with one minute of normal time remaining.

The special day started off well enough with the girls making the trip to Welwyn, on the mini-bus, in glorious sunshine and in high spirits. On arrival at Panshanger FC, the Belles were allocated their very own changing room, although the girls were already kitted out before arrival. After a very quick warm up the team went back to the changing room for their pre match briefing and card check by league officials. As kick off time approached the two teams were led to the pitch, side by side, for the formal introductions. New to both teams, was the referee having two assistants (linesmen to the parents!) With all the attention paid to the intricacies of the day it would have been nice if someone had paid a little TLC to the pitch as it was desperately in need of a cut and a bit of weeding wouldn’t have gone amiss either.

Sasa was captain for the day after her exploits last week against Bury. St Albans won the toss and had kick off to get the final under way. It was immediately clear that the pitch wasn’t conducive to the Belles passing style of play, as the long grass slowed the ball right down, and the girls would have to compensate by putting more power on their passes to get them to travel the full distance. Within a minute of the kick off the Belles showed their determination to win, with Sadie slamming in to the St Albans midfielders, maybe a little too hard, to win the ball. Sasa and Ursula didn’t allow St Albans any time on the ball and their strong, aggressive tackling began to dictate the play and slowly allow the Belles to push forward. Though the Belles had the majority of possession they just couldn’t find that elusive goal, with Sadie, Emily, Sasa and Kinnari all having chances to put them ahead. Meanwhile, at the other end, the few times St Albans did break through Jess and Meg coped admirably with Tanya, in goal having little to do. Fresh legs in the shape of Ciara and Nicole added impetus to the Belles attack and in the 14th minute the Belles got the goal that their possession deserved as Sadie scored her 37th goal of the season ,ending her 2 game “drought” and sending the massed ranks of Belles parents/ supporters wild on the far touchline.

The Belles looked to increase their lead with the midfield controlling the game and Emily, Nicole and Sadie going close. The half time whistle sounded with the score still at 1-0, but came as a welcome relief to both sides, giving them a chance to get some fluid on board in the draining heat.

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Cup final kick offJess defendsKinnari pushing forward

Half time 1 - 0

The Belles knew they were in touching distance, 20 minutes to be exact, of winning their first trophy together. The half time talk was “more of the same”...again! The girls didn’t disappoint and straight from the re-start they were on the attack. The heat was starting to take it’s toll on both teams and legs were starting to tire but the Belles continued to dominate with Sasa particularly productive in midfield freeing Emily with her blistering pace and Sadie with her power, to try to find that killer blow. Excellent distribution from Tanya in goal also opened up the St Albans defence, but yet the ball wouldn’t find the back of the net. Jess in defence, was magnificent, as anytime St Albans did manage to probe further than the halfway line, she was there to mop up. Minutes later the Belles came so close to going 2 up as Sasa, on another of her runs, ploughed through the St Albans defence, but could only watch as her shot bobbled off the post before being hacked away to safety. Most of the Belles followers were halfway through their joyous “we’ve scored” leap before they realised the ball hadn’t crossed the line!

Nicole was rampant up and down the wing and her pace was catching out St Albans time and time again.With only minutes remaining Sadie had a chance to wrap it up but put just wide of the post. All 10 players had just about squeezed all the effort out of their tiny bodies but there was still time for another attack but Sadie, not spotting Nicole unmarked at the far post, poked wide of the goal. Then came the refereeing decisions that turned the game on its head. With St Albans mounting a rare attack, the referee, having checked his watch, saw a foul just outside the Belles penalty area, and duly awarded a free kick. The poor free kick was in the process of being cleared from the area when the referee blew again. Many could have been forgiven for thinking that was the final whistle but the ref had in fact blown for a penalty to St Albans, for an alleged handball. Even the St Albans followers seemed bemused at his decision, with no one else spotting the so called infringement. Less than a minute of normal time remained as St Albans stepped up for their penalty. The striker struck the ball to Tanya’s right but Tanya managed to fling her foot out and stopped the ball. It was the Belles fans turn to celebrate, but it didn’t last, as the rebounding ball fell to the St Albans striker who made no mistake the second time.1-1.Extra time was looming and the Belles were crestfallen. As the full time whistle sounded, many of the Belles were in tears knowing they were so close.

Full time 1 - 1

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Nicole in actionFull time

On a day full of “firsts” another one began, Extra Time. 10 minutes with the prospect of penalties if it was still tied. Sasa moved up front, looking to put a bit of weight in to their, understandably, tiring attack. The day was just about to go from fantastic to bad to worse. Ursula, who was relentless in her challenges, went for a ball in midfield but somehow managed to fall banging her head on the rock hard ground in the process. After a lengthy stoppage to tend to Ursula and eventually remove her from the pitch, the game restarted and within seconds the unthinkable happened. St Albans pushed forward and managed to get the ball in to the area where it was met by one of their strikers who blasted the ball past a helpless Tanya. Yet another first, this time Hitchin heads going down, although it must have been hard to play extra time with tears in their eyes. With 2 minutes left St Albans increased their lead with another scrambled goal, as all the fight had been ripped out of Hitchin. The whistle went with the St Albans cheers ringing in the ears of a distraught Hitchin side.

An exhausted, distressed Hitchin Belles team managed to compose themselves after a few minutes, to accept their runners up trophies and were magnanimous in defeat as they applauded St Albans as they collected the cup.

So a promising looking season turned out trophy less, just missing out on the league title, losing in the county cup semi final and runners up in the League cup final...BUT.. these girls are winners, starting from last September when some of them could hardly kick a ball, they’ve consistently played some of the most attractive, passing flowing football I’ve seen. They were league leaders for most of the season to be in the running for the league title until 3 games from the end. They played their part in a fantastic county cup semi final,never a 3 goal defeat, against arguably the best team in the league and dominated 39 mins of this cup final only to be robbed of victory by a disputed refereeing decision.

Being within reach of a historic victory only to have it snatched away literally at the last minute was a bitter pill to swallow, not just for these 10 year olds but also friends, family, followers and coaching/management. Hopefully they will come out of this stronger and wiser and look forward to resuming battle next season.

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2010 HGFPL Cup runners upSt Albans Cup Winners

Footnote: Ursula was taken to hospital as a precaution but released late Saturday afternoon.

Team: Tanya, Meg(“The Wall”), Jess, Ciara, Nicole, Ursula, Kinnari, Sasa, Emily, Sadie.


Player of the Game: 10 lionhearts out there in the heat.10 fantastic performances. But this weeks winner is ...Jess. Strong at the back but looks to push forward, great tackling and passing. A revelation this season.


Report by: Rob Kovacs