After last weeks opening defeat to Stratford Town FC – It was vital for Starlands to get their season off and running.
The Magnificent 7 turned out for an early kick off – and a wasp sting to Georgia earlier in the day did not prevent her playing.
Starlands immediately looked better defensively – marshalled by their Captain Georgia Wood.
Holly ‘The Cat’Beale was buoyant after last weeks ‘Girl of the match award’ – and had learnt valuable lessons from last week – preferring to pick the ball up and kick magnificently out of her hands. This allowed Starlands to have some breathing space – and to push further up the field.
Sutton had a couple of good players, now playing in their 3rd season together, yet Starlands did not look out of place.
The girls were beginning to gel , communicating and holding their positions.
The Sutton girls were into the thick of the action and only a fingertip save from Holly pushing the ball onto the post saved an early opener.
Sutton did take the lead with a very well taken goal. Direct from their goalkeeper and tucked into the corner by their No.11
Heads could have dropped –After all, Starlands had most of the possession and territory – but Starlands kept going. Midway through the first half – a shot saved by the Sutton goalkeeper bounced up off the hard ground, and midfield dynamo Samantha Kirman turned and shot in one movement helping the ball into the net.An equaliser and more importantly a goal that gave belief to The Starlands girls!
Second half Starlands were kicking downhill and with the wind. Holly was making use of her cannon like kick and went close to scoring herself only accuracy prevented her scoring! Repeating this tactic Georgia forced her way between the defenders and smashed the ball into the net from Holly’s long ball to take a 2-1 lead.
Sutton was soon knocking at the door – Starlands too often controlled the ball for Sutton to take it off them and take advantage. Sutton Town bullied their way through the middle and their centre forward cracked a shot to again draw level – leaving a trail of Starlands players in her wake.
Starlands could have easily let their heads drop but continued to battle on.
Sutton were frustrated by The Starlands non-stop effort to back track and block in defence – The twins Loris & Hannah a constant thorn in the Sutton side .Always making a nuisance of themselves and breaking up play.
The pressure told and The Sutton No.11 forced a shot into the top left corner – with Starlands having allowed a ball to come across the box from a throw on the other side of the pitch. Again Starlands contributing to their own downfall.
3-2 down and 10 minutes left, the writing was on the wall. Could their luck get any worse? Sam Kirman even getting stung twice by wasps who had somehow got into her shirt! But Starlands did not give up. Hafsah Alam held the ball up and tracked back in defence to great effect throughout the match.
Sutton broke with Starlands pushing up the field to try and get the equaliser.Martha Millington sprinted the length of the pitch, resisting the temptation to give away a penalty, slid in timed to perfection taking the ball off the strikers toe just before she shot. Fantastic tackle and effort which summed up The Starlands ethos.
Starlands wasting no time – hammered the ball down field, there was a goal mouth tangle and somehow Martha managed to pop up down the other end to slide the ball past the Sutton keeper.The ball rolled agonisingly past the keeper and into the goal.
It was the equaliser and just in the nick of time – as the referee blew for full time. A draw a thoroughly deserved.
Heart-breaking for The Sutton Town team and their goalkeeper.But,for Starlands it was a moment to savour…and something to work on for next week’s game. Well done girls!
Girl of the Match Award was presented to Samantha Kirman.
Goals – Samantha Kirman (1) ; Georgia Wood (1) ; Martha Millington (1)