Our 17th match this season was against Banbury, always a difficult team for us to play and even more so given it was an away game and in the afternoon, which never seems to suit us.
Availability was not as good as in previous matches but on Wednesday we were 14; it fell to 11 on Friday but luckily we were able to persuade Dizzy to get back onto the pitch and Emma to play a little earlier than she planned after baby no 2! We also had Amelia in goal, her first outing with the 5s. Lucky 13 or so we hoped!
We started really well and had some great early opportunities in the D, Pip nearly scored in the first minute but her shot went just wide but never flustered, she waited nearly another whole minute before converting a great pass with a lift into the net. 1-0 within two minutes!! Banbury are never ones to give up and they had a number of breaks which got them into our D. To be honest our defending and shape wasn’t great in the first half, and we had a tendency to give away the ball too often and Banbury capitalised on this. Amelia had a one on one situation before too long but with great composure she reacted early and cleared the ball out of danger. Our second goal towards the end of the first half came through the hard work of the mid field. Jacs was her normal calming influence in the middle, making some great passes to Caroline and Jane waiting on the sideline who then passed the ball onto Sophie and Priya, the workhorses on the inner line. One such play gave Sophie a chance in the D who hit hard and found the goal, Polly waiting by the post debated whether to help the ball in but it was already there. 2-0 at half time
The second half was end to end stuff with consecutive corners at both ends. Our defenders stepped up in the second half and Caroline, Becky, Mary, Susan and Jane along with Amelia denied Banbury a goal from 4 consecutive short corners. Amelia’s did a number of amazing saves, earning her man of the match, the most impressive being a full body launch to the right and pushing the ball to safety with her stick. Mary managed a full body lunge to save the ball literally centimetres from the goal line, Susan made several deflections off the back line and Jane cleared many balls into safety; it was scrappy, but effective. Back up the other end we also had 4 consecutive corners and despite some near misses and some great placement by Emma and Dizzy we ended that game without a second half goal.
Not our best nor prettiest game by any means but we keep our unbeaten record this season by digging deep, not giving up and working together. A small interesting fact - since the mid season break over Christmas the 5s have conceded only 3 goals in 7 matches compared with 15 goals conceded in the first 10 matches - great progress.
Thanks to the stand-ins today and well done Amelia for man of the match!