A game of two halves
By Russ Gibbs
Bingham on wrong end of 8 goal thriller
These kind of scorelines are great for the neutral, and can be a nightmare for coaches who don't embrace the development ethos and accept that, at the end of the day, these are just still fairly young kids having a good time playing sport. During our travails over the last four seasons we have become adept at taking the positives out of some really quite shocking scorelines. We didn't need to do that after this game. We made some defensive mistakes in the first half which were addressed at half time and didn't recur, so that's a tick in the development box. In the second half we were really great going forward too. On reflection we also felt there were a couple of refereeing decisions we were perhaps a bit unfortunate to have go against us, but c'est la vie. No ref = no game, so you've just got to get on with it.
We didn't have a referee allocated for this game, and despite seemingly asking everyone in the county there were no takers. One of the coaches from Holy Spirit Celtic is a qualified ref, so he agreed to run the match. We also welcomed back our regular linesman Nic's Dad a.k.a. Ian after a long spell out with a recurrence of his 'sporting injury' to his ankle. Almost all of our squad turned out for this so we had tons of substitutes enjoying the sunshine on the bench. A positional tweak saw Lauren pushed forwards from midfield into attack for the first time in a couple of seasons.
Bingham played into the wind in the first half and really struggled to get out of our own half. Our girls admirably tried to keep the ball on the floor and play their way out but with HSC holding a very high defensive line and loading lots of players into our box, we needed to play the forward pass over the top a bit more and turn them around. The visitors took the lead after a period of sustained pressure and a mistake from the home keeper (sorry Pip!). HSC then had another effort disallowed for offside before Bingham equalised. Lauren latched on to a great through ball, beating the defence with her pace, before coolly rounding the goalie and slotting home from close range. We then fell behind again when some slack marking allowed a free shot from inside the area which was finished well and gave Pip no chance. Lauren created a golden opportunity to equalise again with a perfect ball across the box after a strong run down the left wing, but we didn't work hard enough to get on the end of it and the chance was gone. We fell further behind after losing possession too close to our own box, the resulting cross creeping in at the far post. The final goal of the half also went to HSC. It came from a corner that we felt was well into 'Fergie time' but we failed to deal with it and so it was a deflated looking Bingham side that trudged over to us at the whistle. Half time score: BTFC 1 - 4 HSC.
The message to the girls was simple. Concentrate on our defensive marking and don't get caught 'ball watching', try to put the forwards in on goal quickly, let's win the second half and see where that gets us. It almost got us a positive result. With the wind at their backs now the Bingham girls pressed Holy Spirit back and could easily have got two goals back in the first five minutes. Katy worked a great opening for herself and bravely had a go with her weaker foot but it was too close to keeper. Lauren then got through but her final touch was too heavy and the goalie was able to collect the ball. The half continued in this vein with almost all one way traffic and some good last ditch defence from the visitors. The sucker punch came with around fifteen minutes remaining. Following a counter attack from HSC, Pip appeared to have gathered the ball on the floor when two players followed in. She was caught in the back by one and let go of the ball, the other player then nicking the ball and rolling it into the goal. A tough one for us to take but them's the breaks. As always the girls kept going. Lauren again slightly overran a good chance she created for herself, then a great solo effort from Izzy saw her take the ball up to the edge of the box from midfield and then spank it right footed into the top left corner. Within a couple of minutes Lauren again got on the end of a through ball and this time finished well. Time was against us by this point though and at full time it finished: Bingham Town FC 3 - 5 Holy Spirit Celtic Sports Club.
Despite coming out on the wrong end of the score, with slightly better finishing the girls could easily have turned round the large deficit from half time. As it was, a great second half performance gave us plenty of positives to take away. We must give credit to the visitors, they are a very combative side and always cause us lots of problems with their ball delivery into the penalty area. We definitely have some work to do in that regard!
The players and coaches (while acknowledging Lauren's great show in attack) all chose Izzy as the BTFC Player of the Match. Some of her passing and movement was great to see and despite taking a heavy fall on a very hard pitch and sustaining a painful injury to her wrist, she carried on and capped the performance with a lovely strike for her goal.