A game of two halves
By Tony Taig
Another heavy defeat but with signs of major improvement
We have a goalie!! Warmest of welcomes to Sonia who had a very un-ideal warm-up for her first game with Badgers, as we were only able finally to assemble enough kit for her a few moments before the match started. We also welcomed Sam for his first Badgers match of the season - while Hermione got the opposition vote (2nd week in a row) for our player of the match, Sam had to be a strong contender with a really gutsy performance at the heart of defence.
Our midfield of Hermione, Elanor and Martha were called into defensive action from the first minutes of the game, while Erin & Sam at centre backs made tackle after tackle under pressure, helped out by Louisa and Elle at right and left back respectively. It wasn't long before the first goal came, and Brooklands added 2 more in the first quarter as our positioning left big gaps for them to exploit.
After a firm team talk from Chris things started to improve on the positional front. The second quarter ended the same way as the first - 3 more goals to Brooklands, and a lot of frustration for the forwards (and spectators) as Chloe, Scarlett and Will made good runs to create lots of space up front, but we just weren't able to find them with passes. Despite a fantastic work rate and great tackling from the midfield and defence we too often just played a weak ball straight back to the opposition and found ourselves under pressure again. The super-subs who'd played for the mens 4's (big thanks to Ivan, Ryan and David for coming over to help out and to Elis for coming along as goalkeeping coach/mentor for Sonia) were now introduced and the first signs were starting to show that we might actually string a couple of moves together.
After half time things improved apace. Louisa and Elle switched sides at the back and both adapted really well to the new positions. A much higher proportion of our defensive tackles were now leading to passes to the hard-working midfield of Elanor, Hermione and Martha helped out by Ryan and David. Our positioning improved no end and Brooklands were finding it much harder to get free in our D, though after a couple of really good moves working it down either wing they added a single goal in the 3rd quarter.
If only we could have started the game like we played in the 4th quarter. We were now starting to look a much more organised team. We still need to improve the strength, direction and timing of our passes, but in this quarter we matched Brooklands and took the game to them at their end of the pitch. Scarlett and Chloe worked tirelessly on the wings, now starting finally to receive a few passes, while Ryan, David and for a spell Hermione were providing better targets as centre forward. Ivan moved into central defence rotating with Sam and Erin and we started getting some consistency into passing out from our own defence, either wide via Louisa and Elle or through to the hard-working midfielders, with Elanor & Hermione rotating in centre mid while Will, Martha and David all took spells in the wider midfield roles.
In the last few minutes we had several good team moves where the defence was able to get the ball to the midfield. Will on the left made some good, simple passes to put Scarlett, David and then Hermione in with real chances to get into the D, while Chloe's hard work making space on the right was finally being rewarded with some good breaks up the wing. Unfortunately we weren't able to convert - we need to learn from our opposition that if the goalie has 98% of the goal covered from where you are then a simple pass round them is often better than a rushed attempted shot.
Brooklands were by no means out of the game - they played well throughout with strong passing and excellent use of both wings. Behind our better organised defence, Sonia was growing in confidence and made some good saves to enable us to end the final quarter 0-0.
Huge improvement through the match, and just sorry we haven't got a game next week to pick it right up and carry on from here. Please get your availability posted as far ahead as you can to help Lisa (Hermione's mum) who is kindly going to be sorting out the team while I'm away. Once again our attitude throughout was tremendous. A final big thank you to Chris and Rosie for staying on to umpire, and to Chris for all her coaching.