Sparkly Stick Works Wonders
Reading Ladies 3as (2) v Oxford 5s (0)
Yippee, another early start, but this time at Sonning Lane.
The warm up didn’t really do what it said on the tin – it was still VERY COLD. With only 12 players (unexpectedly) at least it meant there weren’t so many of us standing around getting frozen. Small mercies! The arctic conditions did not favour Reading in the early stages of the game; the opposition overloaded the centre of the pitch with some swift play across the midfield. Luckily, Oxford’s midfield and forwards didn’t link up so effectively in their attacking 25 and their strong attacks were dealt with time and again by the dogged Reading defence.
Shortly after the game started the sun began to shine brightly and Oxford’s blue shirts started to merge with the Reading shirts and as Reading were playing into a low sun this started to cause problems. Pitch side Manager Fran was dispatched to the Captain Mannering-Mobile to find the fetching bright orange bibs which were thrust at the oppo. The game did change from this point and instead of passing the ball to the opposition we suddenly found ourselves in their D and winning a short corner. Captain Mannering stepped up and, with her sparkly new Adidas warhead, she scored a beaut of a straight strike goal. Boom! 1-0 to the good guys at half time, albeit admittedly against the run of play.
Two or three dramatic falls and injuries by the Oxford players plus ‘bibgate’ managed to stretch an already freezing 35mins to a practically polar 45min first half. Highlight of the half was Sue telling NeverSayDi that Jess was free for the pass with the reply ‘Who’s Jess?’ (note to selves, we did not run a name check at the beginning of the match...oops!).
A stern half time talk seemed to have worked as the team came out strong and positive in the second half and started to dominate large areas of the pitch. Maybe this was because the opposition continued to tumble like skittles, some all by themselves and some felled by the determined Reading players. There was good covering and marking in the midfield and we were able to feed the forwards much more effectively, on occasion slicing open the Oxford defence and giving ourselves good scoring opportunities. Mid way through the second half and we scored a corker of a goal from a broken down short corner - the defender’s stick deflecting Blanche’s powerful hit past the hapless keeper. 2-0, and that was the final score.
On reflection we did play well enough to win this tough game. This was a strong opposition and we rose to the challenge quite well, even though it wasn’t pretty at times. Although there is still much work to do, the team played well and continue to grow together. Outstanding performances from Jess and Sara today, really well done. Welcome to the team NeverSayDi - you were awesome and great company too. Finally, thanks to Fran from managing, John Thorne and Jo for whistling.
Welcome back Jo, we have missed you!