Sunday 14th April

Walton Casuals 1 – 2 Comets

Match report. Right. It’s all a blur. Maybe someone else should fill in the gaps. It was all SO exciting with the Wembley-esque stadium (Drika was impressed), changing rooms, clean toilets, perfect pitch, 14 match officials. It was a little daunting when the oppo came out with six coaches in matching Arsene Wenger anoraks and the 14 spritely youths running around in matching training tops. It was a little glorious with all that lovely sunshine and supporters filling the grandstand. The professionalism of the line-ups and handshakes and photo opps was brilliant but it all takes time and before we knew it, it was time for kick off.

Walton came at us like sh*t off a stick in those first 10 minutes and 17 corners later we had held firm and repelled their every attack. We started to get a hold of the game and the football and find our triangles. At which point disaster struck. Ellie went down under a heavy challenge (presumably her own) and got her hand crushed by some studs (presumably NOT her own?). Instead of staying down and wailing she wandered over to the touchline and said ‘I’m coming off I broke my hand’. Mercifully play was stopped so we could get a sub on. Then we subbed Sam off because, well, I don’t know how to bandage a potentially broken hand when the lunatic it belongs to is insisting she is going back on the minute it is strapped up. Sam did a LOVELY job and we got them both back out there asap.

Our first goal, came from a gently wayward switch from Molly, a lovely chase and SUBLIME bit of skill from Chrissie to knock it around the left back and then race away leaving her looking a bit silly. From there she had the time and space to pick out her cross to the far post and delivered it INCH PERFECT over the head of the furthest defender. Michelle claims she chose not to shoot and instead laid it off for Drika via her knee/thigh/backside. Drika made NO mistake and swept it home. 1-0 Comets gently against the run of play. Dramatic celebrations evident on video. Also if you look really closely you can see the Walton’s keeper punch the ground REALLY hard. Sam isn’t strapping YOUR hand up if you break it missy.

Our second goal was all Elsa. Jinked into the box, lovely change of direction, left defenders looking a bit silly, placed perfectly into the opposite corner. Muted celebrations as she walked off calmly, as it if was all in a days work. THEIR goal, described as a ‘scorcher’ or similar by some silly pundit was a ‘misdirected cross’ according to others. Either way, 2-1 at the break is a half time score we would have taken EVERY TIME had we been asked pre kick-off.

Second half saw no goals but plenty of action. I have to say I think we crafted the better chances. We struggled with their offside trap and our final balls didn’t quite find our players and sometimes Michelle lacked a bit of help up there. But we still crafted the better opportunities and could have found a goal to put the game safe. Best chance of the half fell to Jen who did BRILLIANTLY to close down and wrestle the defender for the ball at the edge of the box. Defender fell over, no foul, Jen advanced a couple of touches with the keeper to beat. Tremendously unlucky to see her thrashed effort smash back off the bar. It deserved to break the roof of the net. Some excellent defending throughout saw us through but although my nerves were wrecked I have to said we dealt with everything they threw at us and Meg didn’t have to make a bunch of tough saves. Most of it got cut out by our exceptional back line.

It is hard to single out individuals because honestly I think you pretty much all played your game of the season and played a REALLY important part in this famous victory. I will just mention Elsa.. Player of the Match officially and we would concur. I will add Ellie to that for joint woman of match – no just for 427 exceptional recovery tackles and clearances but, of course, she did it all with a smashed up hand. I think the whole of the back line did us proud with Tori worth a special mention for having returned from such a long time out so recently. And Meg for sacrificing herself to goal for this special occasion – we REALLY appreciate it. Elsa, Mol, Jen, Court, Drika controlled the midfield and our flanks via Sal, Sam, Chrisse carried constant threat. Michelle worked like a LEGEND up front and was so important as always. Okay so I have mentioned all of you. Seems fair. You really did this together.

I will give a small nod to myself for not horribly messing up shape or competitiveness through a lively set of substitutions. Our plan was not to over-tinker unless we really had to but to slot people in to keep it fresh and give people the right sort of break. To anyone who didn’t quite get as much footie as they would have wanted, I apologise, balancing it was a delicate act and I was trying to look after you all, and the team.

We said before the start that the most important things were 1) to not get freaked out by the final 2) to play OUR football and 3) to give it EVERYTHING. I think we did all of those things. Sure it was hard to dominate a team like that but we carried threat and were unlucky not to score more goals. We absolutely nailed it in terms of not letting the occasion overwhelm us and there is NO DOUBT that every single one of you gave everything you had. Which gives me opportunity to leave you with one of my favourite quotes of the day. I brought the tireless Sam off for a break after 70 minutes of wild sprinting up and down the flank.

“Am I done?” she said.

“No No” I said.

“GOOD” she said… “cos I DON’T FEEL DONE !!!”

The explosion of excitement at the final whistle was a real treat to see. Never seen some of you so happy. Not sure Court has ever BEEN this happy. The JOY on your faces was just extraordinary. Makes it all worthwhile to see you all SO thrilled. Sadly the same could not be said for this guy…