Bognor gained a crucial victory in the first game of the Spring Trophy at a wet and windy Crawley, despite some pre match preparation that rivaled the Hong Kong dentist chair incident.
At least three players were known to have been out at all night parties and had to be shaken from their beds and dragged to the game. Some of the parents also had difficulty with the early stormy half term start??. However all was forgiven as the team gave their all to secure a hard fought victory.
Despite the rain, the pitch was in reasonable condition, though had been turned around and shrunk since our last visit. Crawley decided to kick with the wind first half, on the basis that they were the home team and could do what they wanted, denying us the opportunity to use our rock paper scissors skills to do the same.
Crawley began putting us under pressure using the wind to push us back with long balls and some dangerous in swinging corners. Bognor began to wake from their slumbers and started creating chances a few minutes in. Grace worked the Crawley keeper, but her handling was good and she sent one kick the length of the pitch all the way through to Clara on the wind. Crawley had a free kick on the edge of the box after Clara was slightly harshly judged to have handled outside her blue, but not white, lined penalty area, but we learned the lesson from the previous game and Katie bravely blocked the shot from close range. Grace then beat her player and crossed from the left. Maria stabbed the ball goalward but the keeper pounced with a low dive. Roxy then hit the post with a swiveling shot and when Crawley forced a great save from Clara with a long shot destined for the top corner we were beginning to think getting to half time at 0-0 would be a good achievement. However switching Grace inside to the attacking Central midfield role quickly paid dividends as she latched onto Wizzys pass and struck home and then picked up the loose ball after Maria had won a tackle and smashed a sweetly struck half volley from an acute angle into the far corner. With Issy and Katie looking solid at the back we made it to half time in a very healthy 2-0 lead.
Perhaps due to Crawley leaving us hanging in the cold while they put there feet up inside in the warm, in the second half we didn't seem able to use the conditions as effectively as Crawley did and we were unable to get the territorial dominance hoped for. However with everyone working really hard we didn't give them any real opportunities and we looked dangerous on the break. Clara was winning the ball and linking well in midfield and almost scored when she wriggled through but her shot went high into the side netting. Grace put in a high cross from the left with three bognor players free inside the area but none of them could put the final touch on the ball. Wizzy was then brought on on the right flank and exploded into life like dynamite. She beat players with pace and skill and her low cross found Issy who couldn't quite connect from close range. Then Grace won a crunching 50/50 on half way with a text book block tackle, passed to Issy who made ground on the right who in turn found Roxy who cleverly cut the ball back back to Grace who completed her hat trick in a girl of the match performance.
Crawley tried hard to get back into the game and forced throws and corners but Katie's defensive positioning was good and Hattie worked superbly to stop the dangerous Tyra, who let both her and Hollie know she was there ??, but they were brave and strong under pressure. When ??did finally break through Hollie was out like a flash and saved excellently with her legs on the edge of the box.
It was a superb effort from the entire team, giving ??% to match a strong opposition in difficult conditions and letting our football do the talking in the final third. An away win in what on paper looked perhaps our most difficult fixture is a great start to the Spring Trophy campaign and with recent indoor tournament winners Rustingtons game called off, we top the league after week one. In honour of Tom's 10th birthday next week, the league have kindly given him/us the Sunday off so he can be suitably pampered with breakfast in bed with all the trimmings, while Matt will go scouting and spying on new girls Ashington. We resume with a home game against Oakwood who have recently returned to the league in a fortnight. Well done all, keep it up ???????