Tuesday night’s league game against Buxton was a “dead rubber”, as their win on Saturday against St Georges confirmed them as league champions with two games remaining. With Vicky still recuperating we were without a goalkeeper for the night so Hannah stepped in between the posts.
Buxton took an early lead, when a through ball resulted in a race between Hannah and the Buxton striker ended in a painful collision between them from which the ball bobbled over the line. We were playing the first half down the slope and had by far the best of the possession, and more shots on goal, but didn’t test the Buxton keeper enough, and had already spurned several good chances when Jordele equalised after 25 minutes.
We could not maintain parity for long, however, as Buxton restored their lead within a couple of minutes. The remainder of the first half followed more or less the same pattern, with us having the better possession and chances but without being able to add to the scoreline. Half Time 1-2.
The second half was always going to be more difficult as we played up the slope, and we knew Hannah would be much busier in goal. So it proved, as Buxton scored 3 goals in the first twelve minutes, with a reposte from Chelsie sandwiched amongst them. Despite there being a danger Buxton might rack up a big score, Hannah made a couple of fine saves and rode her luck on a couple of occasions, whilst at the other end we still managed to create some decent opportunties, but were unable to close the gap.
The game was littered with eccentric refereeing decisions, although the referee was not helped by the youngest linesman ever that appeared to be being influenced by those stood behind him in the first half in particular, to the frustration of us all. Fortunately there was nothing riding on the game other than pride, but the girls must learn to control their frustration at perceived wrong decisions, and not allow themselves to be distracted by them or by a running commentary from their opponents. The latter is something Buxton have down to a fine art and one or two of their girls clearly got under the skin of some of ours – and in doing so succeeded (not for the first time) in their undoubted aim of putting our girls off their game. This is a tactic that, unfortunately, we must learn to deal with.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that we lost our shape in the second half, and stopped playing the ball out from the back, resorting instead to long clearances and hopeful, aimless balls which all too often found a Buxton rather than a Pride Park player. Our next game, on Saturday, is our final league fixture of the season and the second of three games against the same opponent in the space of a week – the last game being the League Cup Final. We have an immediate opportunity, therefore, to see if we can learn from this experience and make sure we concentrate on what we are doing, rather than on the referee, linesman or opponents – but despite not having a full strength squad and being without our goalkeeper, we did enough to show we can still pose Buxton problems and that if we apply ourselves as we can, there is everything to play for in the remaining two fixtures. Well done, girls.
Result: Buxton 5-2 Pride Park
Scorers: Chelsie, Jordele