It has been four weeks since the Christmas break and the restart of the second half of the season, but with only one league game played, along with a mixed team friendly, the Ladies 3s are struggling to find their pre-christmas form. This has not been helped with the onset of winter weather also disrupting their much needed training sessions either.
After a weeks break due to a frozen pitch and cancelled game, the Ladies 3s found themselves, back on the pitch facing a team who are sitting several place below them in the table. On paper it looked like an easy game lay ahead, but that is far from what happened.
Along with several regular team players in the line up, their was fresh blood with new skillful players as well. But right from the blow of the first whistle it was clear to see that the lack of practice together really affected the flow of the 3s normally smooth game. Sluggish with their reactions, unsure of how those around each other played, it took the majority of the 1st half to try and settle down into some kind of rhythm. Cheltenham were by far the more skillful team, but all their linking play seemed to be lost, misplaced passes, or players taking on the opposition meant that the possession of the ball was quickly turned over. Their discipline with their press seems to have disappeared altogether, slow to set and quick to break allowing gaps to form and Badgers to attack. Despite this being far from their best performance, Cheltenham did manage to take the lead in the first half. A well worked goal from a short corner, the team not giving up form the firs saves, and converting a third attacking phase with a beautifully struck strike.
All to often they needless continued to lose the ball, gifting Badgers opportunities, which thankfully the defense and goal keeper dealt with remarkably well, and it was with great relief that the half time whistle came.
A swift half time pep talk was given, the positive play congratulated and reinforced, and a few points to improve on, but nothing to overwhelm the team.
It was clear from the restart though that Badgers felt they stood a chance in this game, and they were quick to pressurize whilst Cheltenham struggled to switch back on and focus on their game. and within the first 10 minutes of the restart after some dubious defending Badgers had managed to equalize. The shock of this fight back from the opposition, seemed to re focus Cheltenham. They tried to up their game and put the pressure back onto Badgers, but time an again missed their opportunities when they had them. In the end though, their second half performance was no better than their first. even with goal scoring opportunities, the errors that plagued the first half did not disappear. They continued to given the ball away and just seemed a little panicked rather than have the desire to win.
At the final whistle the scocre was still 1-1 but their opposition far happier with their performance than Cheltenham were. this result potentially ending their promotion chances depending on how the other games in the league played out.
The last couple of games has taken the wind from their sails a little as well as some confidence from the team. With so many talented players, who know in their heart they can play better its easy to be disappointed by the game.
Its very easy when things don’t go your way to find excuses and someone or something else to blame, bad pitches or unfair umpiring, but it feels like the ladies 3s are their own worst enemy. Despite the many negatives, there are always positives that can be taken from games like this one.
Cheltenham struggled at the very start of the season before settling down and focus on their game and how well they all connected on the pitch. This is exactly what they need to find again, how to player together again! If they can lose the mentality of being one player and become a team again that is stronger when they work together they have every chance to continue to do well this season.