It was (as expected) freezing down at Dunbar but we were kitted out in base-layers! In the early stages of the game, we dominated possession and had lots of chances to score but Belhaven defended strongly with their sticks down to block our shots. It is always pleasing, however, to see things you work on in training come to fruition and when one of our attacking players made a run in front of the Belhaven goalkeeper, blocking her line of sight of the ball as Amalia shot, we opened the scoring. It was a bit frustrating not to score more before Belhaven broke up the other end and had a few chances of their own, only for Bea to thwart them along with our epic defending from Esme and Tunrayo and then Lara who made some crucial interceptions.
The half term team talk prompted a discussion on how we could communicate better. In the first half, we were often guilty of hitting the ball without looking and not knowing whether or not we had more time to look up and pass the ball to a player in space. To help give our more central players more time, we decided that we would shout “Time!” if a player on the ball had time to turn on the ball and look up before making a pass. When I told them that usually in football, team mates always shout “Man on!” when a defending player sneaks up behind them. This prompted a lovely moment when one girl questioned what I had just said by saying, “Wait? Manon?” referring to our French gap student! And so, our very own warning call to our team mates was born and the second half, you could hear the cries (in their best French accents) of “Manon! Manon!”
We were very narrow in the first half and the girls were told to spread out better in the second half and they improved in this area with Sophia, Lyla and Dulce occupying wide positions meaning they received the ball in space. Tunrayo began to look up when she heard the call “Time!” to make some strong sweep passes to her team mates. Our second goal came from Esme who cut in from the right wing to go on a mazy run across the D before flicking the ball on her reverse. This might have seemed like a terrific individual goal; however, her team mates played a crucial role by running into space which took defenders away to give her space.
Belhaven got one back after a little lapse in concentration but the shot was strong and accurate in the corner not giving Bea any chance. This was none more than Belhaven deserved given their hard-work, particularly from their main player in the centre who covered almost every square metre of astro.
However, it was our captain Jess who had the final say with a lovely finish on the half volley following a cross from Athena who had worked very hard all match.
It was a well-deserved victory and well played to all the girls who have improved so much from the last time I had the pleasure of taking them on a Wednesday. Special praise goes to Esme with her tenacious play, super finish for the second goal but most of all, reacting well by clearing the ball off the pitch following the calls of, “Manon! Manon!”