Sirens Delighted with Draw Against Leaders Spencer
By Sophie Rodger
Spencer 9s 1 – 1 Sirens
Squad: Emma, Wendy, Claire T, Sophie, Victoria T, Jenny, Monica, Aimee, Tracey, Hayley, Lisa, Kate, Georgia, Caitlin
Saturday afternoon saw the Sirens (age range 13-80 years old) travel to Mitcham for a floodlit showdown with Spencer 9s, a formidable team of colts (all under 16 yrs old) with an impressive record: sitting top of the table, they’d won all four of their previous games and scored 28 goals in the process (conceding only two).
Undaunted, our Head of Strategy, Tracey, arranged the team into a new formation suited to the defensive task ahead of us and gave us a clear game plan to execute.
The first half got off to a strong start for the Sirens with a few early chances, but Spencer’s pace at getting players rapidly back managed to keep our attacking moves easily at bay.
The home team dominated possession but couldn’t find a way through our defence, which worked together like a Roman shield wall, orchestrated magnificently by our captain, Emma. As the half wore on, the Sirens maintained intense defensive pressure as Spencer bodies swarmed the D – forcing their shots wide of goal or closing them down with strong tackles before they had a chance to strike. Those that were on target were blocked superbly by Caitlin, whose many excellent saves kept the Sirens’ scoresheet clean right up to the 31st minute, when the opposition finally managed to scramble the ball over our line.
Despite being 1 – 0 down at the half time whistle, the Sirens were buoyant. We knew our defensive strategy was working and that we had the ability to push forward and even up the score in the second half. Spencer may have had an advantage with speed, but our experience, tactics and greater physical presence made the match still too close to call.
As with the first half, much of the play during the second was confined to the Surbiton half. However, the quality of our teamwork at the back made it impossible for Spencer to find another breakthrough, with Georgia putting in a particularly brilliant performance in her debut for the Sirens. Tracey and Wendy were a continual frustration to the opposition, doggedly disrupting their flow, while Hayley was an ever-reliable presence as sweeper, snuffing out countless advances before the ball had the chance to reach Caitlin’s pads.
Meanwhile, the work rate and communication of our mids – Lisa, Kate, Claire, Aimee and Jenny – was superb. With every charge forward, another teammate stepped in to cover, and with every counter from the opposition, they tracked back and hassled the colts, closing down their space.
In the 63rd minute our efforts were finally rewarded with an equaliser that came from some fantastic vision and teamwork from Aimee and Victoria T. From just over the halfway line, Aimee saw the gap to fire a superb through-ball to Victoria (playing high forward), who turned up the gas to get into the D, with only a couple of seconds with space to get a shot in. A great save from the keeper kept it out, but Aimee – having surged up the pitch in support – was on hand to collect the rebound and slot home with a clinical tight-angled finish.
Cue total eruption from the Surbiton dugout!
The pressure was on in the last seven minutes as Spencer threw everything they had at regaining their lead, forcing the Sirens to double-down on their defensive strategy. Three short corners followed which made for nervy watching from the sidelines, but the team kept their heads impeccably and defended each with confidence and fearless determination to see the game safely out.
The Sirens went into this week’s match determined to learn from our last, and play to our own game plan. We did this magnificently and delivered a heroic, whole-team defensive masterclass. A draw never felt so much like a victory… Kate even cracked open the fizz!
Player of the match this week is deservedly shared between:
- Caitlin: For all her fantastic saves, without which the score line would have been very different!
- Monica: For instigating some of the Sirens’ best breaks and being a relentless presence throughout the whole game.
- Aimee: For her constant pressure on the opposition and landing our highly-deserved equaliser.
Final score 1-1. LWWWD so far in the new league. Sirens climb from 5th to 4th in the table with a game in hand over Teddington 7s who sit in third.