Ladies Confirm Division One Status
A late winner for the K's at Tower Hamlets guarantees Division One football in 2017-18.
We travelled to the Docklands today – to Millwall Park to be exact – knowing that a point would confirm we had retained our Division 1 status for next season. We were up against Tower Hamlets Ladies who, despite sitting at the foot of the division, had turned in occasional excellent performances throughout the season, including defeating a Premier League team in the cup. We were missing several players today – Annie Jenkins, Mairead Halliday, Vicky Cockle and Abi Elliott who were all injured or unwell, and Saskia Veldhuizen who was otherwise engaged. Chloe Bailey reported in with a sore back, but still made the journey. We knew it would be tough for us today, and this was doubly obvious when we saw the bumpy, bare pitch – one of the worst we have played on all season. There was an interesting moment before the game when, on hearing that Tower Hamlets were unable to provide a linesperson, the referee decided he would referee without any linespeople at all, making this the first 11-a-side game we could recall playing that was officiated only by a referee.
We started poorly, struggling on the bumpy pitch to clear our lines or get our foot on the ball. However, after 15 minutes a long ball saw Renae Huggan-Broughton win a chase with the Tower Hamlets’ goalkeeper from where she slid the ball home to put us ahead. 0-1. However, barely five minutes later we gave a Tower Hamlets player too much time and space on the edge of our penalty area and she hit a dipping shot high into the back of our net to level the game up. 1-1.
Tower Hamlets probably edged this half, pinning us back for long periods, though throughout the half we always looked dangerous on the break. HT 1-1
The second half saw the match turn strongly in our favour. Our midfield of Bethan John, Olivia Watson, Charlotte Willis-Sloanes and Sarah Sinkins began to get on the ball more and pick out some probing passes for Sophia Demetriou and Renae Huggan-Broughton in attack to run on to. Meanwhile, Elesha Edman playing in midfield for the first time, and later Hannah Jacobsen, both worked hard to disrupt the opposition’s passing. Tower Hamlets threatened sporadically on the break, and our back four of Georgina Wickham, Nele Quast, Laura Joseph and Lucy Potter had to maintain maximum concentration to hold their dangerous counter-attacks at bay. Chloe Bailey in goal, following on from Coral Robinson’s good turn between the sticks in the first half, also had to stay alert throughout.
As the half wore on, the pressure started to mount on the Tower Hamlets goal, with Olivia Watson giving the opposition a particularly torrid time. Near the end we won several corners and free-kicks in dangerous areas. From these, Bethan John was posing the Tower Hamlets defence problems with her quality delivery, but it started to look as though we just weren’t going to make the breakthrough we needed to win the game. However, this team has a remarkable spirit and will to fight to the final whistle. And today was no exception. With 87 minutes on the clock, we won yet another free-kick. This time to the right of the penalty area almost on the Tower Hamlets goal line. Instead of swinging the ball in, Bethan John spied Hannah Jacobsen unmarked on the edge of the area and rolled the ball to her. Hannah’s shot was blocked but the ball ran back out to Bethan still on the right side of the area. She looked up and saw the goalkeeper rooted on her goal-line at her near post. Without hesitation she chipped the ball up and, to our delight, saw the ball drop into the far corner of the gaping goal. 1-2. We then had to withstand some serious late Tower Hamlets’ pressure into injury time as they desperately chased an equaliser, but hold out we did and bag the three points that mean we will be playing in the Greater London League Division 1 again next season. FT 1-2.
Team: Coral Robinson, Georgina Wickham, Nele Quast (c), Laura Joseph, Lucy Potter, Sarah Sinkins, Hannah Jacobsen, Olivia Watson, Charlotte Willis-Sloanes, Renae Huggan-Broughton, Sophia Demetriou
Subs: Bethan John, Chloe Bailey, Elesha Edman
Goal scorers: Renae Huggan-Broughton, Bethan John
Player of the match: Olivia Watson (pictured)