Juniors’ lift Hampshire League Cup!
An amazing cup run, reaching four consecutive finals led to the first final to actually be played. A talented Stoneham team awaited, a team that the girls’ had strangely struggled against in the two previous league meetings. Time to turn the tables!
Another lightening start for the team, Megan cutting in from the LH side and splitting the Stoneham defensive line with a sublime pass that Carly fired low into the LH corner of the goal (1-0) with barely two minutes played. Juniors’ were on the front foot, looking dangerous every time the halfway line was crossed and Meg almost increased the advantage, not quite connecting cleanly but still well saved by the Gk. The next fifteen minutes settled into an even encounter, Stoneham scrapping and pressing to get on level terms and Juniors’ still looking dangerous on the break. It was Stoneham who were to have the next say in the match, the girls’ unable to clear from a goal kick, punished with a well taken equaliser (1-1). The girls have a bit more experience in the locker these days, heads did not drop, tackles sharpened up and the team got back to business. A move from left to right found Charlotte in space, she composed herself and fired a low drive that the GK could only parry, Carly the quickest to react and smash the ball into the roof of the net (2-1). With the team smelling blood and Carly on fire, Stoneham were struggling to contain the team, when Carly received another fantastic Megan pass she bagged a cup final hat-trick, stroking the ball past a shell shocked goalkeeper (3-1). At the other end, Juniors’ had restricted their opponents to scrappy efforts with committed tackles and blocks, a corner kick suspiciously ended in the far corner of the goal and after a referee/linesman consultation the goal was awarded (3-2). Wow, what a half of football, a very big pitch made for some half time respite. HT 3-2 Team shape was tweaked at half time, Juniors’ forfeiting a centre forward to add extra needed power to a midfield two in Sophie and Summer that had worked their socks off in an actioned packed first half. Brooke dropped into midfield with Sophie, Faye/Annabel in holding roles and Summer to fullback, Kaitlyn and Mya central defence with Eva continuing as left full back. The next goal was going to be a pivotal, if Stoneham found a leveller it would be tough. Juniors’ had started the first period well but the start to the second period was to be explosive, Meg worked the ball to Charlotte and with everyone expecting a cross, in typical Charlotte style she smashed a shot towards the top RH corner of the goal, a valiant effort from the GK but she she was beaten by sheer pace (4-2). This two goal lead was not to be relinquished, the girls’ battled, were brave and tried to play the football they have become respected for. Stoneham never gave up, doing themselves proud but were always chasing the game. Abi had now taken up the LH mid role, doing well in an unfamiliar role. Defensively, the girls were outstanding, a feature of the whole game was Eva’s strength in the tackle as well as her unbelievable recoveries. Corners and free kicks were Juniors’ biggest threats and it was captain Kaitlyn that cleared these dangers time after time, exactly what she was put there for. A player that leads by example and has earned the respect of her peers. Millie had not had the best preparation for the match, hardly touching the ball in the recent matches but showed what she’s all about, especially in the second half, safe hands and accurate distribution. With the clock ticking towards the 70 minute mark the girls saw the game out comfortably. FT 4-2
Summary: Although a massive final, in a way it was like any other Juniors’ match, a couple of asthma attacks, tears of frustration, near exhaustion but fantastic attitudes to just wanting to play the game! Speaking personally, I’m a very proud manager of this team and I’m sure I speak for Dave, Mark and Rob by saying we are lucky to work with such a talented bunch of athletes. It was not perfect, Lauren and Bobbi were badly missed , hopefully they will be with us to enjoy what should be a competitive Dorset final.
FT 4-2 CHAMPIONS!!
POM: (x2) Carly (clinical in front of goal) Eva (never missed a tackle)
Could make a case from them all!!