25/2/12 Starlands 1 - Sutton Utd 0
The sun was shining and the girls were looking forward to entertaining their local rivals in the foot of the table clash.
Both sides had played highly entertaining games in both the league and the cup - and Starlands had been fancying their chances.
Unfortunately, disappointment loomed early when Starlands knew that at best they would be playing with a maximum of 6 girls due to other players playing elsewhere.
This meant the girls knew they were going to have to compete and battle for each other - and they did not let themselves down.
From the kick off, Starlands looked settled in their set up - and for once did not conceded an early goal.
Sutton pressed, but were unable to make their numbers count. Starlands were stout in defence.The trio of Holly in goal, Lauris and Sinead in defence - were making every tackle count.They were clearing the ball and looking solid. There was no way through for Sutton.
The other three outfield players - Hannah , Sam and Hafsah were everywhere! They did not allow Sutton to settle on the ball. Sutton looked upset and were clearly put off their game.
Sutton put a crunching tackle into the back of Samantha which gave the girls their first free kick of the season! and should probably have resulted in a yellow card. However, Starlands gave as good as they got and soon reciprocated the good will!
Sutton were missing their first choice keeper - and their star player No.11 was forced to play in goal. The fact that they had to take her out in the second half to give Sutton some possession was testament to Starlands effort and greater possession.
The first half was very even, and the girls non stop work - gave rise to concern that their energy levels might drop in the second half.
Starlands were keeping the pressure on and forcing corners and long throws into the box. But, as per usual they were just out of luck.
Unusually Holly was redundant for large parts of the game, but when required was more dominant in her box and making some clearances coming off her line.
Starlands forced a last minute attack in the latter stages on the first half - and a snap shot by Samantha went agonisingly wide.
However, at half time the score was 0 -0 - a first for Starlands! They were growing in confidence and the fact that there was no moaning or blaming each other was most encouraging. The girls were playing for each other.
Hafsah was having the game of her life, she was showing tremendous speed. As was Lauris at one point who sprinted like an Olympic competitor to get back and block an attack.
Clearly, the first half efforts had taken its toll on the girls- a few red faces and alot of drinks were being taken on at half time.
The second half, Sutton made some changes - and their best player came out of goal - and began to run things for Sutton. It was now a much harder game for Starlands to try and win.
They stuck to their guns and really had the majority of the play - yet just lacked a little composure on the ball, and kicked it a little too far ahead - allowing the SUtton goalkeeper to collect the ball or a defender to clear. Hafsah was unlucky not to go clear a couple of times, as was Hannah and Sam.They were starting to interplay with little 1 -2 passes. It was great to watch and all the Starlands supporters were enjoying the NEW STARLANDS approach.
Could it be possible to snatch a win?..a draw? or keep a clean sheet?..time rolled on and these things seemed possible. The Sutton No.11 was getting more ball and started to have a bigger influence on the game - but it was Starlands that were unlucky not to draw first blood with a handball in the box going unpunished.
In the latter stages of the game, Sinead came up to take the corners and struck a cracking ball into the box. Lauris was putting throw after throw into dangerous areas.But, it was all in vain - as The SUtton No.11 as expected hit a long range shot outside the box, which delfected through the Starlands defence and appeared to be going wide - but slipped into the bottom corner - 1-0 to the visitors.
There was a danger the girls heads would drop. The crowd were visibly shocked - Yet, this was appeared to be a NEW bunch of Starlands girls. They picked the ball up and went for the equaliser. It was not to be - but, never have I felt so proud and disappointed all at the same time.
Tremendous effort by the Starlands girls - who played with a player light and probably gave their best individual and team performance to date. Let's hope that the returning players add to this - because next week will be another hard game against Marston.
But today- I am and I am sure every other parent watching were very proud of the girls.
GIRL OF THE GAME - went to SAMANTHA for her tenacity and getting stuck in. In truth, Sam felt embarrassed getting the award and wanted a special mention to Hafsah. As match reporter I felt ALL 6 GIRLS are worthy of praise!