Match Report (8) – DARTFORD DEV 3 MERIDIAN 1 - S.E. Counties Women’s Football League, Premier Division
Sunday 2nd October 2022; Weather: Mild – warmer through the afternoon
Manager: Rhys Terry
Assts coach: George Kingdon
Dartford team: Lauren Owen (gk); Robyn Smitherman, Kirsty Cameron, Chloe Hall, Annie White,
Sabine Ghag, Georgia Culpitt, Emily Woodhouse, Tilly Rowsell, Lizzie Nugent, Alex Foulds.
Subs (all used): Alex Fagan, Amy Brooks, Brittani Rumble, Lauren Bullen, Aimee Ascot
Some early shots on goal, the first from Annie White which was just too high and Georgia Culpitt’s effort that was straight at the ‘keeper, set the scene for this Premier Division match. In the next minute a loose ball into the penalty area was scrambled away by the Meridian defence with the presence of Lizzie Nugent playing havoc in the six-yard box.
In the seventh minute, Darts went one up. A free-kick, a fair distance out was taken by Chloe Hall. She looked to be setting up for a shot but instead side passed it to Georgia Culpitt who hit it low into the area where it found Lizzie Nugent who instantly fired it past the goalie.
After twelve minutes, Alex Foulds came close to making it two. In the lead-up to her chance, Sabine Ghag passed to Lizzie who in turn fed it to Georgia, then out to Tilly Rowsell. It was from Tilly’s high cross that ther ball reached Alex whose shot was accurate enough, but it struck a defender and went out for a corner-kick.
Five minutes later Chloe Hall passed out to Tilly who worked her way into the penalty area, took on and beat her defender but her shot was well saved by the keeper low down.
A few minutes later, Robyn Smitherman sent a long, searching ball down the right flank where Tilly was fouled. The indirect free-kick for obstruction was taken by Emily Woodhouse who found Alex Foulds in front of goal but the chance was gone in a whisker and the ball scrambled away by goalie and a defender.
In the 24th minute Darts scored their second. Emily Woodhouse placed the corner into the area and Lizzie was there to force the ball home for her second of the match.
Meridian were forced into bringing players back to help defend and ten minutes later it was very nearly 3-0 when Lizzie’s effort beat the goalie but not the post! It rebounded into play but Darts couldn’t capitalise on the chance.
A series of fouls, nothing too serious, led to free-kicks for the Darts but none were close enough for long-range scoring efforts. Chloe’s free-kicks into the Meridian penalty area were either desperately kicked away or were deflected for a corner.
Half-time arrived with Darts leading 2-0, both goals coming from Lizzie Nugent who was unlucky not to have notched up a first-half hat-trick.
Alex Fagan, Lauren Bullen, Brittani Rumble, Aimee Ascott and Amy Brooks all came on at various stages of the second half
It took a little while for the team to gel with the substitutions but Meridian still didn’t really pose any great threat.
A free-kick from Emily Woodhouse was placed beautifully into the penalty area which was met with a great header by Lauren Bullen which hit the cross bar and rebounded into play, this was followed up by Alex Foulds and Lizzie Nugent but still the ball was scrambled away for a corner.
Another in-swinging corner from Emily Woodhouse, this time low into the area but cleared, but only as far as Georgia who swung a leg at the ball which was at an awkward height but her effort went just too high.
Dartford were playing higher up the pitch with Annie White and Lauren Bullen as ‘holding’ players on or around the half-way line and Meridian, for the most part, only played long hopeful balls forward, trying to dissect the Darts defence. However, just for once it worked. In the 60th minute they managed to get a long ball through and their lone-striker, Kirsty Hampton-Goodall found herself in acres of space. Lauren desperately tried to get across to cut her out but the forward calmy shot high over Lauren Owen in the Darts’ goal. It was a strong and high shot that dropped in at the far post and still had some pace on it when it hit the net – a really well-taken goal.
So, all of a sudden we had a game on – 2-1
However, any threat of a comeback was soon dispelled. Within three minutes Darts had regained their two-goal lead. A neat through-ball found Alex Foulds and she eluded her defender, took a couple of strides into the area before confidently firing home, giving the keeper little chance of saving.
Lizzie Nugent came off to give Amy Brooks, the Youth U18s player her debut.
A nice passing move nearly brought about a fourth goal. Kirsty Cameron brought the ball forward sending it on to Alex Fagan who passed back to Annie White. Annie made strides with the ball and found Alex Foulds who in turn sent it out to Georgia. She produced a lovely centre, aimed towards Aimee Ascot and Amy Brooks but the keeper was out well to foil the attack, taking a knock in the process.
Another quick passing movement forward found Alex Foulds who produced a lovely searching cross for Aimee on the edge of the penalty area but the Meridian goalie was very fast off her line and reached the ball just a split-second before her.
Meridian seemed to tire and ten minutes from time an outswing corner from Emily Woodhouse was floated into the box and met by a strong headed from Lauren who unlucky, saw it hit the top of the bar.
Sabine came back on and Dartford continued to enjoy some excellent possession, with passes spread out to both wings to apply constant pressure. Sabine had a shot at goal from distance which only just cleared the bar.
Emily Woodhouse received a great ball from Amy Brooks and had a one-on-one with their keeper, who did just enough for her shot to go the wrong side of the post by mere inches.
Five minutes from the end, a fine through-ball from Brittani found Emily who cut it back and across to Sabine. She played it out right, diagonally to Amy Brooks who got over a good cross into the six-yard box, but for the umpteenth time today, the keeper saved them with her good positioning and anticipation to cut out the threat of the in-running, Aimee . Aimee suffered a knock in the resultant collision with a defender but thankfully was ok but the Meridian defender required longer attention.
Towards the end, Meridian looked quite exhausted, but Darts looked very fresh and up for more goals. Amy had the ball on the right wing and Brittani, doing an over-lap, pointed to where she wanted the ball played. Amy duly delivered the pass and Britt’s hard running brought about another corner for the Darts.
That alone, typified the character that has been instilled in this Development side and everyone played their part in producing excellent play, a willingness to work hard for each other, and in the end produce the all-important goals!
The defenders served the midfield well and likewise the midfield fed many searching balls for the forwards – some worked, others were over-hit, but all in all it was good to see the thought processes working on ways to vary the attacks and penetrate their defence.
The game was played in good spirit by both sides, especially for long periods where Meridian were always chasing shadows while the Darts were able to ‘experiment’ with their passing.
Well done to all, a good team performance which takes the Darts to the top of the table!
Report by Tony Brown.
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