Slazenger were not looking forward to their first League outing against last season’s runners up given a severely depleted squad due to illness, holidays and other commitments. A well organised Chapeltown team started really strongly and Slaz initially struggled to contain them resulting in a very quick goal for the home team. Bystanders could have been forgiven for thinking that a Chapeltown goal fest was going to ensue; however this early goal seemed to spur Slaz into action and they began to settle into their formation.
Suddenly the game began to turn in Slazenger’s favour as they put increasing pressure on the Chapeltown defence with some excellent pressing. Chapeltown began to make mistakes and Slazenger were very much in the ascendence towards the end of the first half. Some excellent work by Katie Browne on the right flank eventually resulted in Captain Helen Hough being fed with the ball in the D – her shot at goal was fumbled on the line by the Chapeltown defence to level the score at half time.
The first period in the second half was much more in Slazenger’s favour. New players Lisa Middleton and Clare Taylor proved to be great assets in midfield and Chapeltown had no answers to the contained Slaz pressure which after 15 minutes resulted in another goal for the away team. A great pass by Kelly Whittam released the ball on the half way line to man of the match Helen Hough who ran the ball into the D and hit (yes she did actually hit) the ball past the fast approaching keeper for her second goal. All was looking very rosy at this point for Slaz as 5 minutes later a fantastic short corner strike from newcomer Lisa Middleton put the score at 1-3 with only 15 minutes to go.
Again, bystanders might have thought the match was won – however Chapeltown were unwilling to give in and to their credit really picked up their game at that point. Instead of attacking, the Slaz team were now mainly defending and despite great efforts by all the defence conceeded a further goal. Chapeltown, spurred on by this now knew that the game was in reach for them and in the dying minutes of the game after being awarded multiple short corners levelled the score.
Slaz were understandably disappointed but given the depleted squad and the fact that the majority of the team had not played together before; this was a great result which was completely unexpected. Many thanks go to Alex Gilbert, Linda Stacey, Charlotte Gunn, Louise Nock and Donna Wood for ably stepping up to the 1sts this season and newcomers Clare Taylor (not played for 10 years) and Lisa Middleton (who had not played for 2 years).
Team – Eleanor Townend, Kelly Whittam, Donna Slack, Donna Wood, Zoe Smeaton, Alex Gilbert, Charlotte Gunn, Katie Browne, Helen Hough, Louise Nock, Clare Taylor, Lisa Middleton