Hampshire Division 1 – 4th September 2022
It was a familiar venue for our first away trip of the season having faced Winchester in some form in a season for as long as I can remember.
With both squads at full capacity for the first time in a while, it was the unenviable task of the management and coaches to leave some people out this week. Everybody knew they had to make sure they were switched on from the start.
The mood in the changing room was good pre-game and the attitude in warm-up was positive.
Chances for both sides in the early minutes, Knapton found herself one on one after a few minutes but the Winchester GK was equal to it and denied us an early goal.
Seconds later that save proved to be even bigger as Winchester broke up the other end, a hopeful through ball on the floor bobbling over the foot of the Sports defending and leaving the very pacey striker through 1 on 1 who made no mistake putting the ball past Clarke in goal. 1-0 with 4 minutes on the clock.
This team have never been afraid of falling behind though and it took just 3 minutes to bring us level. Asira pressing the Winchester defender and blocking the clearance, despite being denied by another good save first time round the ball found its way back to her to finish into the empty net. 1-1 – 7 minutes played.
We then began to grow into the game. Lander had a good chance to make it 2 after a good run from Asira but fired over on the 14th minute before Knapton fired an effort from the edge of the book just missing the top right corner on 25.
The defence had adjusted to a deeper line to give them some chance against the frankly terrifying pace of the Winchester No. 14 and although she caused us problems we had enough bodies around to keep Clarke safe and just dealing with some sweeping up.
A huge moment just before the half hour mark should have seen Mosley put us in the lead. Corredera Espejo firing in a low cross that eluded the GK to find Mosley at the back post but with the goal at her mercy from a few yds out she put it over. In her defence a rain shower at the start of the game had made the pitch incredibly slick but it wouldn’t stop her picking up Rory at the end.
We made some subs just after with debutant Acott getting her first competitive involvement for Sports.
Symes who had just come on as a sub too, hit a very good free kick under the wall but it wasn’t good enough to beat the GK before a great strike by Asira was pushed over the bar by the GK on 40 minutes.
We had settled at the back but it was beginning to feel like we’d never beat their GK again having wasted some good chances and being well denied when we did hit the target.
However, if you can’t beat them, go around them and it was a debut goal for Acott on 43 minutes to give us the lead. Mosley heading across the 6 yard box allowing Acott the simplest of tap ins at the back post, 1-2.
Then like buses the goals came, a minute later a good through ball by Symes, who incidentally had been practising her straight through balls, much to the managers distress, since she came on, found Asira who made no mistake with her finish. 1-3.
Then some great football playing out from the back ended with a bit luck, firstly, Corredera Espejo played a slightly high ball to Symes who then managed to regain the ball with a rather kind rebound off a Winchester player before the slippery surface helped her evade the GK from 20 yds with the ball bouncing just in front of the GK and squirming under her body. 1-4 at 46 minutes.
It was not an underserved, but slightly flattering lead given the problems Winchester had caused us early in the game.
A change of formation at half time to give us a chance to use all subs seemed to disrupt us at the start of the second half. For the first 15 minutes Winchester were having the lions share of possession and only some well organised defending from Gard, Sims, Orton, Benjamin and notably Norman who was clearly trying to impress her watching fan club including her mum that had just landed from Canada to see her.
It was Norman from CB who took it upon herself to turn the tide back in Sports favour on the hour mark though. Winning on the half way line before playing forward and following her pass and appearing 16 yds from the Winchester goal screaming at Asira for a cut back. Unfortunately, the excitement got to her and the shot went high but the confusion on the bench as to why and how she had suddenly appeared was worth the effort.
Knapton not deterred by moving positionally further away from the goal going from RW first half to RB cut inside and forced a good diving save from the Winchester GK.
Despite our best efforts Clarke would be called upon on 67 Winchester clear through only be denied by a strong right leg from Clarke who managed to put the ball for a throw.
Symes found the back on the net on the 69th minute, after a scramble with the GK and defender after being denied by a good save originally but the ref saw an infringement and disallowed it.
Benjamin hit a rocket of a free kick from 30yds a few minutes later, for all its power and height it was slightly too straight and the GK got a strong hand to push it over the bar.
It appeared a very entertaining game would likely finish 4-1 as both teams defended well in the second half. There was some desperate defending on the 87th for Knapton and Clarke as the ball had to be saved and blocked before finally being cleared in a very close goal mouth scramble.
As in the first half it was to be another late show from Sports to add a bit of gloss to a decent performance. Gard heading the ball off the defender to Mosley who had now found her composure. She rode two challenges before slotting calmly into the corner for a belated birthday present to herself. 5-1 on 90 minutes.
There was still time to put into practice our preseason hard work on corners and it was a good run to the front post from White flicking in a Knapton corner on the 92nd minute that would make it 6. 1-6 at 92 minutes.
A great performance from the squad and a big thank you to Sam Gubb who ran the line for us after narrowly missing out on a place in the squad this week.
Player of the match went to Kitty Norman, a few votes clear of Benjamin and Asira.
Managers player also went to Norman who was superb at the back winning almost everything Winchester could throw at her.
Rory to Justine Mosley for that goal line clearance at the wrong end