A difficult day in difficult weather
By Jolijn Carpay
Battle for fourth is still going strong
When you are used to 10:00 pushbacks usually, a 16:30 game is a hard pill to swallow. Rain was forecasted as well and after no rain falling during the day, it came down heavily from the warm-up till long after the final whistle. Stourport is our direct competition when it comes to a place in the top four. A win would see us leapfrog both Boots and Stourport and we would go into third. We knew the expectations, now it was time for the execution. We had beaten Stourport twice previously, but never at their pitch. It's never an easy game, Stourport away, especially because of roudy fans who need repremanding by the umpires more than once a game.
Stourport were as aware of the high stakes as we were and wasted no time from the time the whistle went. They instantly pushed us hard and tried to get in the D. It was hard to get out of their high press, but we managed occassionally, since they were overloading in our half and there was space up the pitch. These few good outbrakes led to a few chances that were saved by their keeper, who played a superb game. Stourport's retaliation came through short corners which were all saved bar one. Towards the end of the first half, one of their numerous short corners found their way in because Jo saved it onto Scooby's foot. One of those but a goal nonetheless.
We weren't defeated though. A half-time team talk resulted in us trying to press the ball more and keep playing those good passes up the pitch. Our goal(s) would come, we could be sure of that.
More rain accompanied us in the second half and we came out a lot stronger. We flipped the game upside down and now it was us who were pressing Stourport high. To summarise our press, Stourport didn't find a way into the D until the last 5-10 minutes, I'm not sure of numbers exactly. We had many opportunities of good passes down the line which we made plenty of. More than once we found our way into their D but continuous good goalkeeping kept Stourport in the game. In contrast to Stourport, we hadn't had many short corners. When they did come, we were determined to get a result. The second short corner of the half was a beautiful play which Ellie-Mae put in the goal. 1-1. Time for a second? Yes there is. We didn't stop pressing but we were getting tired. We had a 1v1 with their keeper, which was smartly saved. Stourport had a 1v1 with Jo, which she saved as well. It was starting to look like a share of the points. After a final Stourport attack where they wanted a short corner but rightly didn't get one, the final whistle went. Relief and opportunistic thoughts led the way for the mighty zebras, although a win would've been even nicer.
Next week, we play Cannock at Vesey, at 10. A win would see us go back in the top 4 if the other results go our way. Hopefully we can count on supporters to cheer us to victory. A nervous 2 games left and we will do our absolute best to finish fourth.