Louis, Eleanor, Emily A, Evie, Lily, Tilly, Matthew
Not a play by play match report as such more a summary to recognise Warrington’s effort today.
We turned up at Stretford with just 5 14&u players Emily, Eleanor, Louis, Matthew and Evie - we drafted in 12&u players Lily and Tilly, fresh out of playing the 12&u match to make up our minimum team number in order to compete, so we were on the backfoot from the start.
Stretford had a full team, and an experienced squad with 3/4 very capable City of Manchester and Regional players including Dan B, perhaps the biggest player in the league at this age group, so I started the match extremely apprehensive with an expectation of a major loss with a very large goal difference!
Against all odds however Warrington, put in a fantastic performance, with every single player stepping up to the challenge - Eleanor started outfield and provided an early goal and put in a strong performance all round with some very unlucky saved shots - she swapped with Emily for goalkeeper duties after Q1 - Emily now playing out was on top form! She was feeding in from the back, closing down attacks in midfield and banged some in the net upfield - Eleanor was now keeping the ball out of our net and with her experienced game head on, guiding the team performance from the rear - at The end of Q2 Emily and I made a difficult decision to keep Eleanor in net and Emily out as that dynamic seemed to be working well today.
Evie was playing centre back and was under real pressure from City of Manchester regular Ben. Despite defending the pit from an incorrect forward position for the first two quarters, she was managing to keep control of the situation and after a brief positioning pep talk was able to improve on this even further - Evie demonstrated strong, controlled, aggressive defending.
Louis and Matthew seemed to be taking it in turns marking Dan, Stretfords big lad and the major threat - Louis was using his size to good advantage, agilely able to break free from Dan when in possession, but passes between Louis and Matthew were intercepted frequently by Dan in the middle who’s reach was able to pluck the ball out of the air mid pass - they persevered however and after Coaches advised them not to pass across Dan’s area, and keep the ball away from him, their passing improved with some great one-two runs on goal being setup, some of which succeeded others which were thwarted by a strong Stretford goalie. Matthew had lots of good attempts on goal stopped and Louis was bouncing his off the crossbar or shooting wide, unlucky, but we were attacking the Stretford goal on an equal ratio to them!
Lily and Tilly both put in excellent performances, really stepping up to the challenge of playing up an age group - Lily is proving to be a fierce player, closing down any attackers that cross her path - often going in a bit too hard and conceeding the foul, but ensuring the opponents attack is halted - she clearly takes after her sister 16&u player and Coach Emily in this respect, and I could see she was already trying advanced moves like no-handed press. Tilly was instructed to stick on her player and dont let her get past her - she did so impressively and effectively kept her marked player out of the game for the duration of the match which helped us no end - superb effort and performance from both of these young players.
Ultimately I had expected a real pasting and we ended up giving a very strong and highly populated Stretford Team a very competitive game, and I think considering the mismatch between us and Stretford in terms of player age and numbers, 14-7 was a very respectable score!
This match stood out as my favourite of the season so far!