On 15th April 2023 the Phoenix travelled to Berkhampstead for a 10am kick off in a return to footballing action following the Easter break.
Having not played for almost three weeks the Phoenix started slowly and were almost caught out by the opposition early on. Within 2 minutes of the start Berkhampstead had a shot on goal which required a quick save from MK. They then had another opportunity a few minutes later, but again MK had positioned herself well and intervened early to prevent a goalscoring opportunity from arising.
The Phoenix quickly warmed up and found their feet. They started closing down the opposition and interrupting their passes. As they started to get more of the ball they pushed forward into the Berkhampstead half.
YC was the first to test the opposition goalkeeper. She collected the ball just outside the Berkhampstead box and fired a shot which just sailed wide. The Phoenix won the ball directly from the ensuing goal kick and FLS shot at goal from long range. The opposition, seeing the threat posed started to drop back and ease off their advanced pressing.
Now the game really started to open up for the Phoenix. YC took a corner for the Phoenix, which she played straight to the feet of SDB. The opposition were slow in their reaction, and before anyone could get close she struck the ball cleanly into the bottom corner. The goalkeeper dived, but could not get close enough.
AW joined on the right flank and kept the opposition wingers at bay – it was from this side that they offered the greatest threat. AW spent much of the half tracking back and forcing the wingers to make errors and gaining an advantage through the resulting throw ins. When she did get forward she sprinted into space providing options, but equally stretching the opposition defence.
On the opposite flank LV had plenty of time on the ball and made a few great runs from the Phoenix half into the opposition half. At times she would have 2 players pursuing her, although they stayed close, when she was able to get a pass, or play the ball forward, she had drawn 2 defenders away from the attack.
JM played as striker and showed the importance of pressing the defence – she constantly troubled Berkhampstead and forced them to make quick passes which were intercepted by her teammates. With 22 minutes played she sprinted at a defender in possession , forcing them to quickly make a pass which ended up with YC. YC played a pass to JM, who had remained in the advanced position. She hit the ball first time. Although the goalkeeper blocked it, she kept running and knocked the rebound into the goal to double the lead.
LS and CD worked well as a defensive unit. Berkhampstead appeared to prefer playing the ball wide. They made sure that one of them headed off the attack and that the other stood ground in front of the goal to intercept any passes and see of any attacking runs. When they won the ball they each played the ball forward which meant that defence became attack within a few moments.
Before half time CD was unlucky to see a long-range effort just pass above the crossbar. She won the ball in the middle and drove forward before taking the shot. AW also had an effort on goal -pouncing on a loose ball after the opposition cleared a corner kick.
The Phoenix had a comfortable half time lead and looked likley to add to their tally. The half time break came at the right time for the opposition.
The second half started in a very similar fashion to the first half – early pressure from the opposition resulting in MK needing to make important saves in quick succession. Conceding a goal so early on would have changed the game completely. MK’s reflexes kept the Phoenix in a strong position.
With Berkhampstead rallying together the Phoenix needed to be alert and ready to deal with any attack quickly. AW ran back and forth in the second half – chasing down Berkhampstead and forcing the attackers off the ball with her positioning.
LS made sure that the Phoenix started to gain the advantage again. She made several really important interventions, with some strong tackles. Having done so she was then calm and composed on the ball – she looked for passes, or attacking options. If there were no options she drove forward with the ball to create space.
At the other end of the pitch FLS battled away with the Berkhampstead defence. She did not give up and quickly recovered the ball whenever she lost it. Her perseverance led to a goal – she attempted to dribble into the box, hit a defender who took the ball away, but then ran back to reclaim possession. With space now available she drove forward and took the shot. The goalkeeper had no chance at close range.
YC was enjoying the pressure being applied by the Phoenix. The more the team drove forward the more passing options opened up for her. She had a great deal of possession between the centre circle and the Berkhampstead box. From there she made several pain point passes to her teammates and had a number of shots at goal. When the opposition did break away, she was well placed to drop back and win the ball.
JM moved around the pitch and continuously applied pressure in the second half. She was always near the action and was ready to either tackle or run into space depending on the outcome. She made it difficult for Berkhampstead to make any passes and she made sure they were being pressed whenever they won the ball.
CD and SDB worked really well together on the right wing – CD as striker and SDB out wide. Their passing and movement created several goalscoring opportunities as they took players out of the game with 1-2 attacking plays.
With 45 minutes on the clock SDB won the ball on the halfway line. She saw CD’s run and played the ball in her path. CD took a quick touch and move the ball away from the oncoming defender before lining up her shot which fired into the back of the net.
There was some late pressure from Berkhampstead – they continued to trouble the Phoenix on right hand side. LV sat in the centre defence and made some important tackles to stop any meaningful attack. The opposition wingers made a number of passes from the right-hand side and so she had to be alert, and in a good position to deal with them.
With only seconds remaining on the clock the opposition broke free and an attacker ran through the defence – cutting inside from the right. MK was quick off her line and went to intercept. She made contact with the ball, however the Berkhampstead player had a bit of luck as the ball bobbled but stayed at their feet, leaving an open goal for a simple tap in.
A great win for the team – after a few difficult results. They are always disappointed to concede, but with lots of good attacking football and solid defending on display this was a solid win and a fantastic all-round performance from the girls.
POTM was SDB - a great display today – always involved in the attacking play and made some great runs at the opposition. Not only did she score two goals today she was equally important when out of possession. She was always the first to drop back and fight for the ball.
TOTW is JM – full of energy today and never gave the opposition a moments rest. Berkhamstead’s task was made all the more difficult thanks to her presence on the pitch. A well-deserved goal for her determined approach to the game.