Balham Panthers 2-5 Kingstonian Ladies
At half-time today, we were looking at a two goal deficit, had seen Balham twice hit the crossbar in quick succession just before half time, and were seemingly down to 10 players. You might have thought that our luck was out but, unbeknown to everyone, this story still had a long way to go! Read on!
Once again we had a whole raft of players unavailable today, and we took to a slightly boggy Balham Panthers’ pitch today for kick-off with only the bare eleven names on the team sheet. We welcomed Ellie Bland into the team for her debut as well as Chelsea-Ann Woods for her first game for 6 weeks after injury, and we also had Danni Bourne and Patti Panok back in the side after absences. With our manager, Stef Loucaides, also unwell today we knew we would have to dig deep to get a positive result.
We started quite brightly and created a number of decent chances, none of which we could take. After 20 minutes, the Balham left-winger was given too much space and she crossed to set up an easy opener for Balham. 1-0. Only a few minutes later, Chelsea Woods succumbed to a sore ankle and had to leave the field. We reorganised with Ellie Bland dropping into defence, but Balham made their numerical advantage count and pressed us back for the remainder of this half. They added a second goal on 30 minutes after a shot was well parried by Lily Dusting in goal, but saw the ball rebound to the Balham striker who made no mistake at the second attempt. 2-0. In the remainder of the half, Balham twice hit the crossbar, but we survived through to half-time without further damage to the scoreline. HT 2-0
The half time talk led by captain Lucy was full of positivity , and when Chelsea declared herself able to re-enter the fray, we were back to 11 and in determined mood. The sun had dropped low and was right in the eyes of the Balham defence in this half, and we were soon capitalising on it to get back in the game. Less than two minutes into the half, Sophia Demetriou was put through the Balham defence and she raced through to slide the ball past the keeper. 2-1.
Only 5 minutes later, Sophia was put through once again and she crashed a shot against the crossbar. We could sense that the tide was turning and after 55 minutes came one of the key moments of the game. We won a throw-in just inside our own half. Lace Edgcombe showed some really quick thinking and quickly deployed her unbelievably long throw over the Balham back four to feed in Sophia Demetriou. Sophia once again needed no second invitation and made no mistake with a neat finish. 2-2.
Ten minutes later, and Lace once again used her long throw to devastating effect. She launched a throw from near the corner flag right into the Balham 6 yard box, and an under pressure defender helped the ball into the goal. The come-back was complete. 2-3.
In the 15 minutes that followed, the game swung from end to end. At the back, our defensive trio of captain Lucy Potter, Danni Bourne and Chelsea-Ann Woods were putting up an effective shied to protect Lily Dusting behind them in goal, and Lily was calmly dealing with anything that got through. Our formidable midfield quartet of Mairead Halliday, Sarah Sinkins, Olivia Watson and Lace Edgcombe were a bit too hot for Balham to handle in this half, working tirelessly, controlling the game and setting up opportunity after opportunity for our attacking trio of Sophia Demetriou, Ellie Bland and Patti Panok.
We could all feel that the next goal would be decisive, and thankfully it was us that got it, as Sophia Demetriou ran through in the 80th minute for the umpteenth time to complete her hat-trick. 2-4. It was game over only three minutes later when Mairead Halliday hit a vicious swerving long-range shot that eluded the Balham keeper. FT 2-5.
This was an unbelievably, gutsy second half fight-back from the ladies when the odds seemed to be stacked against them at half-time. Tremendous credit is due all round and we also wish Stef a speedy recovery.
Team: Lily Dusting, Chelsea-Ann Woods, Danni Bourne, Lucy Potter(c), Sarah Sinkins, Mairead Halliday, Lace Edgcombe, Olivia Watson, Sophia Demetriou, Patti Panok, Ellie Bland
Goal scorers: Sophia Demetriou (3), Lace Edgcombe, Mairead Halliday
Player of the match: Lace Edgcombe