In the mid afternoon sun of an Indian Summer, Starlands set out to go one better against Sutton United in the Cup.
Both teams are struggling at the foot of the League table, and the previous encounter was a 3-3 draw due to a last gasp goal by Starlands.
Their confidence was high following last weeks performance against Warwick Angels – and the girls believed they could get a result.
The added motivation was provided by coach ‘Becky’ who offered herself for a post match soaking ‘if’ the girls won. The girls needed no greater incentive and set about achieving their goal.
Starlands again were struggling to put out a full team – last minute recruit ‘Rachel’ stepped into the team this week and went straight upfront.
From the off Starlands knew they would find it a hard match. Sutton had recruited another 3 new players from another team and had a full compliment of reserves. Something that was to prove telling in the sweltering heat.
Starlands managed to resist their usual charity of conceding early doors. However, it was still Starlands who found themselves 1- 0 down. A well worked cross was simply deflected in.
However,this week Starlands had a source of relief from the constant defending. With Rachel playing up front, she offered a release and a physical presence for the Sutton team to contend with. Georgia released Rachel with a lovely pass – which she powered into the bottom corner. Starlands were back in it. The girls were enjoying themselves and the crowd were playing their part in spurring them on.
There was some great tackling from Sinead who was disciplined in her defensive role joined by Georgia who was having her best game to date. At one point, she slid into a tackle and passed in the same movement turning defence into attack tremendous effort!
The teams went into half time 1-1 and all to play for. Starlands were having more of the ball as time progressed.However, it was noticeable that the Starlands girls were flagging under the heat and no subs.
A lack of concentration and a poor goal kick from Starlands went straight to the Sutton forward and with no-one in front of her she was able to beat the goalkeeper taking them 2-1 up.
Starlands never gave up – following a goal mouth scramble the ball again came to new recruit Rachel – who blasted it from the edge of the box through the crowd making it 2-2. Credit must be given to Starlands Scouting system! J
Sutton were unlucky not to win it at the end of normal time. Holly who had been unusually redundant was called into action.She saved the first effort leaving her ,the attacker and defender on the floor - the ball went loose, and Georgia instinctively reached out to stop it crossing the line.
The referee rightly awarded a penalty – and leniently allowed Georgia to remain on the pitch. The reward was expected to be a last minute penalty goal to Sutton – which would see them through to the next round. Holly stood firm and faced the on rushing penalty taker – who blasted the ball way over the goal. There was a sense of injustice – but Starlands were in no mood to roll over.
There was hope! The whistle blew for the end of normal time. The girls were shattered, water taken on board and further instructions from Becky – would it go to penalties? Was Becky was beginning to worry about her earlier promise L
The first period of extra time was very much Starlands – Sam was unlucky not to finish of a good move and her shot went agonisingly high and wide.
Hafsar and Martha were working their socks of covering plenty of ground.
Regardless of the heat – The girls never gave up running or working for each other.
However, as penalties loomed – Sutton crossed a ball that by passed all the Starlands players and went straight to the waiting Sutton player at the back of the box unmarked.She made no mistake and put the visitors 3-2 up with minutes left – Starlands still kept on but to no avail.
A disappointing result for players and spectators alike. A relief for Becky! But I am sure the promise of a soaking holds until the first win comes!? J
Next week the girls welcome back the twins – but, we will be without Martha who is playing in a tournament .We wish here well – and hope that Rachel has no hockey!
Girl of The Game was quite rightly Starlands Captain Georgia who made some telling tackles,broke up play and instigated counter attacks.