Harleston Magpies Ladies sponsored by Musker McIntyre Estate Agents suffered their first defeat of the season this weekend to Hampstead and Westminster. It was a long journey to Westminster and Magpies wanted to be prepared for the hard game that was to come as Westminster have had some great results so far this season. The Magpies warm up was dynamic and the team was ready to start the game strong, knowing Westminster would also start fast. This was a success for Magpies as they caught Westminster off guard with Abby Gooderham making a swift tackle to gain the ball high up the pitch and some quick skills to put it in the Westminster goal. Magpies could not have had a better start and were spurred on to put in more effort and determination to keep the lead. But this was not to be Magpies’ day.

The team fought well together for most of the first half; stopping the attacking efforts of the Westminster players, making some crucial tackles all over the pitch where needed and stopping long balls going through the press. Nonetheless the Westminster pressure succeeded at times, forcing goalkeeper Charlotte Peet to make some crucial saves to keep the Westminster forwards at bay. With Westminster receiving two green cards and being down to 9 players, Magpies tried to gain the momentum back but a miss-placed pass allowed a Westminster forward to use some great skill to get past the Magpies defence and flick the ball over the keeper and into the goal, making the score 1-1. Magpies refocused and tried hard to regain possession of the ball leading to some chances falling to the Magpies forwards but these were quickly stopped by the Westminster defence to end the half 1-1.

At half time Magpies tried to refocus and get back into the game. The regrouping pushed Magpies to try to hold onto possession of the ball but this was stopped by the high press that Westminster put on the visitors. The Westminster team’s fast paced balls and width gained advantage over Magpies leading to one ball being picked up, driven into the circle and placed into the penalty area. The ensuing battle for the ball led to a Westminster goal and a call from the Magpies defence that the ball had hit a foot, however the goal was awarded and the home side were 2-1 up.

The Westminster team stretched the pitch for Magpies at times, but this also caused them problems with some long balls from Magpies being picked up by their forwards, with one chance narrowly being picked off the line by the Westminster defence. However Magpies could not hold off the attacking play of the opposition and with some short sharp passing, a fast ball crashed into a foot in the visitor’s circle and went up in to the air where a Westminster forward touched it over the goalkeeper, into the Magpies goal. Despite now being two goals behind, Magpies did not give up and kept trying to keep pressing high up the pitch to pressure the Westminster defence into making a mistake which resulted in the team gaining a short corner. The resulting shot was saved off the line with Magpies supporters at the brink of cheering but it was not to be and Magpies were still 3-1 down. Magpies stopped some good Westminster chances that had broken through with some great tackles, saves and tracking back from players who were giving their all to salvage a result. Magpies threw everything at the home side to get a goal but in the last few minutes a fast paced ball split the Magpies press, before being driven down the line and put across the circle for a final Westminster goal. Magpies refused to give in and battled hard until the end but it was not their day against a good team.

Magpies do not have a fixture next weekend but hope to regain their form and bring another win for the white and blacks on the 5th of November away against Chelmsford.

SQUAD FROM: Lucy Belsey (Capt), Lauren Barber, Louisa Greenacre, Bryony Lund, Debbie Francis, Katherine Ridley, Lauren Mickleburgh, Charlotte Peet, Lizzie Clymer, Tor Findlay, Charlotte Harrison, Lucy Whiting, Annie Nunn, Abby Gooderham, Hannah de Selincourt, Anna Tighe and Maria Andrews