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Sparks 3 -  1 London Gamblers (H)

27th November 2023

By Emily Hughes

With the over night frost leading to a morning of will it/won’t it go ahead, the pitch was sparkling and confirmed match ready, as were the Sparks. Unfortunately numbers dwindled in the hour before the match, so we put out an SOS call, which was duly received by Helen. Halfway through a sausage sandwich, and in the middle of feeding Lottie, she dropped it all and made a mad dash to the pitch (no babies were harmed in the winning of this match).

We started strong, with great communication and a well drilled press, putting lots of pressure on Gamblers. They were sticking close to our sides and leaving little room, but we kept our heads and played our own game. A few breaks gave us some good opportunities, interspersed with me repeatedly finding the one patch of pitch covered in superglue, resulting in excessive clumsy ball kicking.

Finally we got a mark on the scoreboard, courtesy of a straight strike from a short corner that Charlotte hit not once, not twice, but three times before it flew into the back of the net! Buoyed by our first goal, and with the arrival of super sub Helen, with what must’ve been one of her first touches of the game (and with no warm up), she expertly won us our second goal.

After some half time words of wisdom from Alex, and me giving myself a talking to, we got back on the pitch to the news that Wanderers (who had been one point above us at the top of the table) had lost their game. It seems this might’ve distracted us a little, as a lapse of concentration enabled Gamblers to catch us in a moment of disorganisation and get their first goal. A few more minutes of slight chaos followed with Courtney sliding around on the pitch - taking Lisa’s title from last season of player who spends more time on the floor than on their feet - and Sunny and I both passing to their centre forward. However we survived this and won ourselves another short corner. Not ones to change a winning formula, we opted for the fail safe straight strike from Charlotte, which nearly split the back board.

Ordered restored and 3-1 up, we played a sensible possession game for the closing minutes. With Wanderers’ loss, we are now two points clear at the top of the table for the first time this season - long may it continue.

Shout out to the Aldous Umpire Dream Team v1 for top class management of the game.

POM: Saya for her silky skills and amazing attacking runs

DOD: Emily for the aforementioned football playing and helping out the oppo