WPL – Round one report

Coastal Spirit 2 – 2 Cashmere Technical

Our first game up against potentially our toughest opponent in WPL this season came a little soon. We have had a number of absences during pre-season and the process of the team getting used to a new coach and vice versa has slowed our preparation so far. Then pre-season was shortened a week with a new draw, which also meant we were without 4 of our top players for this game. Special thanks to Rebecca Lake who pushed hard so that she was available for 30 minutes.

The first 10 minutes saw a lot of the play in our own half with Cash Tech moving the ball with assurance and Annalie Longo (Flea) making the play in midfield. However, our rejigged defence of Kara Daeche, Ellena Firth (on debut), Emma Clark (Captain for the day) and Becky Wilson held firm. And what shots that did come in found McKenzie Falco well positioned and with assured handling.

The real battle was in midfield though where Sophie Vos and Olivia Smith worked hard to close down the ball and after 10 minutes or so we started to string some possession together ourselves, aided by Chloe Webster and Mel Cameron winning good possession higher up the pitch. We began playing out from the back with more confidence, with Ellena doing especially well to distribute the ball in space for our right flank.

Arna Roberts and Cody Taylor were proving to be threats with their pace on the outside and after 20 minutes Cody pounced on some indecision from Cash Tech defence. She dribbled forward from left of centre and calmly side-footed into the left corner from the edge of the penalty area. From then on we dominated the half and Cody added a second when she picked the ball up from 30 metres out, stood up the last defender and went past her into the box and drilled a superb finish inside the right post.

Half-time was upbeat but some of the girls had done a lot of work without having a lot left in the tank. As the second half began Flea began getting more time on the ball for Cash Tech and she was involved with a smart one-two in the box followed by a clinical finish (2-1). After 10 minutes Rebecca came on at centre back and Ellena moved into midfield to replace Olivia who had an injury. As our energy levels dropped our combinations lost accuracy and we spent more time without the ball.

Everyone dug deep as we had to defend more with some great last ditch efforts from Emma, Becky and McKenzie. Junghwi Jo came on and did well at right back in her debut. Rebecca won some great tackles and distributed well and we had chances to add a 3rd goal, but in the end some fine skill from Flea, with a turn and shot from outside the area saw the final result a draw.

We will take a lot of heart from the spirit and courage we showed and for the time we spent in the ascendancy over our major rival. We also have good room for gains by improving our combinations and aerobic capacity.

It was very hard to pick a player of the day because I felt everyone contributed everything they had. On reflection, I would say Ellena deserved it for her strong and calm display not only in defence but also when pushed forward into midfield.

-Jim Small

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