Alton always promise a tough but exciting game for the Ladies 1s and this fixture was no different.
With Alton sitting 2nd from top the Island knew they faced an uphill battle and the first half lived up to the expectation. The young Alton midfield asked questions of the Island from the off with quick passing and skilful driving runs. However Gabrielle Morgan at centre back was unflappable: alongside Claire Caddick and Daniela Devenish the defence quashed all opportunities. It took a sloppy short corner to beat the Island with a rebound dribbling over the line. 1-0. The Island began to build momentum with Harriet Mack’s excellent form continuing down the right wing. Saffron Hart switched the ball effortlessly to create space on the left for Jaimie Payne and Nicky Richardson to feed the ball to Emily Lord and Katy Ednay. However the Island couldn’t create clear chances and failed to convert on short corners. Alton edged it at half time.
Second half, the Island had the bit between their teeth and within 2 mins found their equaliser with a play straight from Coach Chris Stokes’ textbook. Harriet Mack raced down the right wing and found Katy Ednay on the baseline who calmly slotted the ball across the face of goal to Emily Lord who dispatched it into the empty net. 1-1. This lifted the Island side and multiple chances followed: Georgia Whittle’s skills won several short corners from which Jaimie Payne found the post with a rocket shot and then had a strike saved off the line; Emily Lord deflected a long ball beautifully to Katy Ednay who couldn’t quite get it past the diving keeper’s stick; and last ditch defending from the experienced Alton line kept Harriet Mack’s crosses from reaching the forwards. The action was end to end however, with no.7 from Alton giving an notable performance and pushing the Island defence to their best form.
Mackenzie Wright was exceptional in goal capably dealing with chances including a drag flick and smothering attempts from two players towards the edge of the D (to the detriment of Saffron Hart and Jaimie Payne’s nerves who were covering her goal!). The game was poised for a well deserved draw but unfortunately the Island allowed the skillful No.7 to penetrate their D and win a short corner. A bobbled shot beat the defence and found the back board. 2–1. Despite throwing everything at the other end the Island were beaten. Whilst a point would’ve been deserved, all players left the pitch feeling buoyed by a fantastic performance and ready to cause an upset against top of the table Winchester next weekend.
Thanks to Neil Harris for umpiring too.