Freezing away draw!
Decent match considering the conditions
At the second attempt and on their back-up pitch at Central College, this lunchtime kick off turned out to be something of a Curate's Egg. We had won our previous two encounters with Dunkirk but in the second of those it was evident that they were beginning to find their feet after only joining the league this season. The unfortunate demise of a nearby team has enabled them to boost their squad with some more experienced players, so we knew this was potentially a trickier game than earlier results may have suggested.
Given the stop/start nature of things at this time of year we'd always rather play than not. That said, the pitch was a shocker! Almost bald and very muddy on one side and with long soggy grass on the other (plus a slope from the bare to the lush side) and for good measure some further mud tracks from the 9-a-side touchlines inside the pitch boundaries, not to mention the extra marked lines causing confusion. Of course it was the same for both teams but was most definitely not conducive to a good passing game and definitely hampered the Bingham players in how they wanted to play.
The match followed a fairly repetitive pattern of Bingham trying to play forward on the floor, and when possession was lost the ball was hit long towards the Dunkirk pacy forwards. In the first half this worked for the home side a few times but a rejuvenated Pip in goal was equal to the shots, and as the game went on our defence was able to adapt and contain them. At the other end Anna G had a shot well saved on her return from injury, and the best of the other chances fell to Katy - one again well saved and the other just over the bar. The Bingham players realised that playing up the wings was the best way to get around the massed ranks of defenders, but the mud or meadow options on either flank made this very difficult.
In the second half Pip was once again most at risk from hypothermia, as the game took place far away from her goal. She had a couple of routine long range efforts to deal with which she did comfortably. Our best chance again fell to Anna G but she was unable to steer her shot the right side of the post. Despite taking off a defender for an extra attacker for the last quarter of the match, BTFC were unable to make the breakthrough. We must credit Dunkirk for their spirited defending and massive improvement in such a short space of time. Their direct play certainly gave our girls something to think about. While Bingham might feel they made more of the play and chances and could/should have won the game, the draw was not an injustice.
High points for Bingham were the developing partnership at centre back between Elisabeth and Anna B (who was outstanding in the second half driving forward) and the support from a rotating cast of full backs in Evie, Bella and Rioja. There were also promising debuts for Izzy and Molly. Technically a second debut for Molly after 2.5 seasons off!
The Vintage Magnolia BTFC Player of the Match was Pip for her first half display, back to her best form in goal.