With Christmas over and the New Year under way, Starlands travelled to Castle Bromwich for the first fixture of the New Year.
Castle Bromwich are riding high in second place in The League and are a useful outfit. It is the first time, the two sides have played, but Starlands knew it was going to be a tough gamne to win, regardless of the three week break !
Starlands did not get off to a good start when confusion over the location of the ground only left The Starlands team with 5 minutes to warm up and prepare.
However, Starlands girls 'as usual' took it on the chin and battled on. We had the minimum 11 girls with Rosie away in London for her 16th Birthday ( According to Facebook!) , Alex struck down with the lurgy,Hannah at a sleep over and no reply from Jade.
Starlands had alot of the early possession and following some time in the oppositions half, were hit on the break and suffered an early goal against the play.
Unfortunately, Holly who came off her line well - just jumped up and the ball was slipped under her feet.
The second goal was a carbon copy, Starlands had the ball -from a throw in, Laurice threw the ball in to Amber who was strong in her run, holding off the defender and breaking from halway.She got her shot away - but a fine save prevented a certain goal.Castle Bromwich came straight back at Starlands - and slid another ball under the on rushing goalkeeper. Holly was in danger of losing her confidence.
It was quite clear all of the girls were struggling to adjust to ' football' again after the long break.There was more than the occassional swipe at an imaginary ball.
It soon became 3-0 when the 3 girl defence were all drawn across to the ball, but the winger by passed them all leaving an unmarked attacker to slot home the third goal. Holly was blameless.
Kiera although positionally was a little wayward was battling well and covering alot of ground, - , and managed to feed another ball through to Amber. She is looking so confident and strong on the ball, but again Lady Luck was not shining and a well hit shot was saved.
Yes, you guessed it. Starlands nearly score - and then the opposition come straight back and tuck away a well taken fourth. A speculative lob from the edge of the box left Holly with no chance...unless she was 6'2".
There was a real danger of Starlands letting their heads drop and there being a big defeat. However, one thing our girls dont do is give in!
Samantha and Ruby were everywhere today, They battled their little hearts out - up and down the pitch and were real irritants to the opposition.
Laurice was leading by example as Captain - and was strong in the tackle and encouraging everyone.
If only Starlands could get Grace and Ellie on the ball with a little more time - those two could find a pass for Amber to pounce upon.
The half finished 4-0.
Second half Starlands were kicking down the slope, and they soon took advantage - a through ball found Amber. She was bearing down on goal and pulled the trigger.,, but the goalkeeper saved well. However, Amber reacted first and banged home the rebound! 4-1 and the momentum was with Starlands.
Grace switched wings and was getting a bit more ball , but was missing her pal Alex overlapping runs down the wing.
However, true to form...Starlands were so pleased with themselves they conceeded a silly goal to make it 5-1. A break, a cross and a simple goal!
6-1 followed with Starlands failing to clear the ball. It is so disappointing, because our girls have the ball - but they just fail to clear it!...they either tap it out to the edge of the box or pass it across the face of the goal - instead of smashing it out of play.
More disappointingly, we spoke before the game about eactly this thing. DONT MESS ABOUT IN OUR BOX! KICK IT OUT and KICK IT FAR OUT! DONT RUSH...SLOW IT DOWN AND CLOSE DOWN THEIR PLAYERS.
For the last 10 minutes, with Samantha having put in a real shift.Was made to reluctantly play at right back - and we went to a conventional back four.
Now, finally the girls seemed to grasp the plan!...Kiera must have booted the ball out of play five or six times to prevent it coming into the box. Sinead also followed suit and was also beginning to put her NEW BOOT through the ball and clear it!!!
We finally let in a seventh goal from a class shot on the edge of the box which was hit hard and waist high. Sam instinctively raised her hand but it still did not stop the shot hitting the post and deflecting in.
Holly had a great second half and was back to her best making probably five top class saves.
The girl of the game award was a really difficult decision - and Laurice,Ruby & Sam all had great games. However, Sinead - managed to sneak it for some great defending.
All in all, it was not a bad first game back, certainly the girls showed some real commitment and fight - and the game was played in a really good spirit by both teams and we welcome Castle Bromwich back to our place.
Hopefully, in the next few weeks - not only are we playing at home and locally - but, we will continue to improve.
Well done girls!