U18 Girls v Leicester U18 (Away (EH Cup) W 5-1)
The U18 girls made the long trip up to the East Midlands to face a Leicester team who had already brushed aside some of the big guns in that area. With a depleted squad, the 12 brave magpies faced up to a 20 player squad who were keen to impress their home support. The game started at a ferocious pace with both teams trading territory in the final third of the pitch, without any real threat. Charlie marshalled the defence well keeping the Leicester attack at bay and Grace threw some dangerous aerials to set up surprise counterattacks down the left. Our best chance came with Rose crashing a ball back post and the ball just evading Lauren’s reach. Leicester had a flurry of attacks and a couple of corners which were dealt with well by the Magpies defence and a couple of great saves by Alice G.
Magpies took first blood on the 20min mark after a great steal and counter attack. A ball across the circle popped up nicely for Abby who intuitively smashed the ball into the roof of the net on the volley. The home team rallied and put together some good attacks but solid defending from Lottie and Olivia in the middle kept them out of danger and they found little joy down their left hand side as numerous attacks were cut short by great team defence of Sophie and Rose. 1-0 at half time meant the game was still wide open.
During the break the girls discussed patient transfer on outlet and being more aggressive in the press and it was the latter that ultimately led to the Leicester collapse. Superbly led by Lauren, Alice and Tor up front and excellent support from Martha, Rose and Abby in behind.
5mins in and Abby bagged her second with a smart finish and 2mins later Lauren made it 3-0 with a superb diving finish around the GK. As Leicester pushed to stay in the game, gaps appeared and Magpies romped forward even to the extent that Charlie found herself playing pinball with the Leicester GK. Lauren added to her tally after a cleverly worked short corner with Lottie to make it 4-0 and the pair combined again with Lottie sliding back post to finish in an empty Leicester goal. Leicester got a consolation goal with 30sec to play but the damage was done.
The girls showed their class against a good opposition, particularly in their defensive intensity and how well they transitioned from press to attack. This is backed up by their 26 for and 4 against in their 4 matches so far in the competition. The road to the finals will only get tougher, but this team gets stronger every game and today they showed they are prepared to work hard for each other when the going gets tough. Excellent effort girls and your semi final place is truly deserved.