It a been a whole month since the ladies 3s had last had a game, thanks to the poor weather freezing pitches and a couple of weeks break for the spring half term. Needless to say, they we delighted to be playing again and ready to bring back their pre-Christmas performances.
Today was the first of two games this weekend and an away trip over to Bourton-on-the-water. In the past games against Bourton have always been scrappy and due to that nature results can go either way. So it was not a game to be taken lightly.
After a good first training session together in the week after such a long period on not playing Cheltenham quickly settled down into a good focused warm up, something they have struggled to do often. this meant that they were quick to switch on right from the start of the game. They immediately put Bourton under pressure from the blow of the whistle, quickly pushing them back into their 23 after their own pushback. For much of the first quarter of the game Cheltenham set the tone. More eager for the ball, and therefore dominated the possession. Unfortunately the possession wasn’t successfully converted into an advantage, Bourton stubbornly defending any attack, and denying Cheltenham any opportunities. As the first half went on, Cheltenham’s intensity dropped, allowing Bourton more possession and the occasional chance to attack. Bourton used the width very well and their best opportunities came from there. But Cheltenham’s defence held strong, protecting the D and maintaining a goalless score line.
Though disappointing going into the half time break goalless, there was plenty of positive play in the Ladies 3s game, and a whole other half to get the desired result. Needing to stay composed and focused during the next 35 minutes, Cheltenham needed to not send so many poor balls across their own D, increase the desire to be the first to the ball again, and keep moving the ball around players.
After a good pep talk at half time, Cheltenham again started the half with a desire to hunt down the ball and retain possession. It wasn’t long before their hard work paid off and they took a well earned lead. Wanting to extend this lead and secure the game Cheltenham kept pushing. Their desire to keep pushing forward though once again opened up some space in their formation and allowed Bourton to counter attack when they won their opportunities to turn over possession. The majority of the time Cheltenhams defence diffused the danger, but a lapse in their concentration and a poorly timed pass across the goal allowed a stunning strike to be let in and Bourton to level the game.
Disappointed to have allowed Bourton back into the game, Cheltenham really needed to dig deep, they could not afford to allow the usual slump in performance during the second half of the game to continue. With the knowledge that their second game of the weekend would count for nothing if they didn’t get the desired result today, they really stepped into another gear. Fighting the fatigue they kept up quickly setting their press, not allowing Bourton any time to quickly get a pass away. In doing so they once again pegged Bourton back to their 23, now they needed to turn over the ball and get a result in the D. It wasn’t before they achieved this, and were rewarded with a penalty corner. This wasn’t the first of the game but after several failed attempts the need to convert this one to a goal was so important with clock gradually counting down. Cheltnehams determaination was the winner,anddespite a well saved attempt at goal they followed up the rebound and scored onc again during the second phase.
Now with a 2-1 lead, Cheltenham needed to calm down what was turning into a frantic game. This second half was turning into a much better performance. Now retaining the possession more often, they reduced the number of times they needlessly gave away the ball from poor passes. Working togethr as a team once again, they were looking strong and frustrating Bourton with their lack of chances. This dominace towards the latter stages of the game put Bourton under a barrage of pressure and eventually letting them extend their lead to 3-1.
The dying minutes of the games turned a little frantic as Bourton pushed to try and find a way of getting back into the game, but thankfully time was against them and no more could be done to the score line.
One game down and one more to go this weekend, as Cheltenham keep the pressure on their opposition and continue to push for that promotion place.