Sunday, 4 March 2007
Hitchin Town Belles U14 0 v 1 Harvesters A
Players: Elise, Alex, Roisin, Louise (Captain), Sarah, Natalie, Lauren, Kerry, Monica, Sammy, Sian, Stephanie, Eva, Joanna.
Half Time; Hitchin 0 Harvesters A 0
On a cold wet day at Ickleford the formidable Harvesters A team arrived a bit like a visit from the New Zealand All Blacks and just as tough to beat. They ended Hitchin’s unbeaten run in a close fought match that was played in great spirit by both sides. Harvesters A have the best defence in the league and without several key Hitchin players it was a difficult task for Paul without any substitutes to vary the options. Harvesters A however had more substitutes than you could shake a stick at and they were used in frequent rotation which meant no rest for tired Hitchin legs later in the match.
The game was close and especially in the second half evenly balanced as Hitchin pushed up looking for the equaliser. Hitchin continued where they left off from Cambridge and more than matched Harvesters in determination, team spirit and a never say die attitude. Hitchin defended well and broke quickly to attack despite the difficult conditions with the rain, wind and cold to contend with. The spectators were treated to a really exciting game with plenty of action and some great vocal support from the sidelines.
Hitchin started quickly forcing an early corner and then in another attacking move with Sian playing alone up front they were narrowly given offside. Hitchin forced another corner through good work by Louise and continued to push forward. Sian ran extremely well and always looked dangerous as she pounced on any loose balls to put pressure on Harvesters defence.
A foul led to Louise stepping up to take the free kick just outside the area. She hit a glorious strike which skimmed the cross bar by inches.
Harvesters then really struck back with a vengeance, Elise, Monica, Lauren, Natalie and Rosin really had their work cut out with some crucial tackles and blocks being made. A series of Harvesters corners led to a fierce strike from Harvesters hitting and then rebounding off the post which Monica and Elise then cleared the lines. Eva came out well in the mud to make some very brave saves picking the ball of the boot caps of the opposing forwards. Sarah ran back well to help out in midfield and Sammy had some good runs at the defence before unleashing some good through balls.
Lauren was rock solid again in defence clearing up any mistakes and covering her back 3. Roisin again fought like a tiger despite the bigger opposition some great turns and clearances. Jo was great in defence making some very good stops and passing forward with real intelligence. 0-0 at Half time but Harvesters looked strong.
A very good start for Hitchin with Sammy jinking down the left and creating some good shooting opportunities and working well with Roisin and Louise to prise open the meanest defence in the league.
A missed tackle floored Jo and despite a really heavy knock she quickly got up to take up her position, she showed some real courage.
However just as things were looking up a swift break away saw Harvesters score a good goal.
All credit to the team they picked themselves up and continued to attack. This let Harvesters have the opportunity to counter and Natalie made a bone crunching last ditch tackle to save a certain goal and followed it up with a header to clear the goal line. Eva came forward very well and made a particularly brave save at the feet of the opposing player which won applause from the crowd.
Sammy and Sian linked up well together up front and Hitchin entered the last 5 minutes forcing a series of 5 corners through great work by Louise and Sarah.
The match drew to a close and despite Hitchin’s best efforts it was not to be a draw.
A thoroughly absorbing game to watch and despite the defeat a very good Hitchin performance to take on perhaps the best team in the league and go all the way against them without being at full strength. Well done to all of the team and it seems a bit mean not to award them all girls of the match but there were some really good performances today that should be noted.
Next week Enfield away another tough fixture like buses the tough fixtures seem to come in 3’s however Hitchin can win away at Enfield, they have the ability and most importantly self belief to do it. Not forgetting they still have a cup run!
Eva had a great game in goal and was very courageous in making some great stops at the feet of the attacking players. She really started to dominate her area today.
Monica and Natalie had an outstanding day in defence with Natalie making a brave tackle to deny Harvesters an almost certain goal.She read the game well and really got stuck in when it mattered. Monica broke up countless attacks from the right and worked tirelessly for the whole match.
Louise and Sarah both ran all over the pitch to support the attacks and came back to assist in defence. They covered a vast amount of ground and continued to work extremely hard right up to the final whistle.
Report by Mike Thompson