Old Silhillians 1st XI 1 - 1 Sutton Coldfield 3rd XI
By Stephen Tabb
Another week, another learning experience
Old Silhillians 1st XI 1 (0) - (0) 1 Sutton Coldfield 3rd XI
Goalscorer: Libby Shepherd
Two weeks into the second half of the season, and our impressive first half is beginning to catch up with us! For the second week in a row, a side came to play against us with the sole intention of damage limitation - playing 10 players in their own 23 at times.
And so the first half played out, with very little pressure on the Sils D, but difficulties in getting the ball into space around the goal. As we knew from the first game, the Sutton GK was very capable, and when we were able to get shots away, she was a match for every one. The match was definitely not without chances, Izzy Gardner being stopped in her tracks one time from the left, only for a PC to be awarded, Caro Kappes unleashing two trademark reverse stick strikes, one over the bar, and one saved by the GK, Sophie Boyle also had shots saved, and a couple of efforts went agonisingly outside the far post and missed that elusive final touch.
Like the previous week, perseverance was going to be the key, as well as tightening up on the small margins. As Sutton tired, gaps began to appear, and more chances came and went - not dissimilar to the first half. However, the visiting team did occasionally break, and with one of these attacks, our defence switched off slightly, and following a very skillful run and some weak home tackling, the ball eventually found its way into the Sils goal, to give Sutton an unlikely lead.
This, thankfully, galvanised the Sils, and there was more urgency in the attacking play. More pressure, with Clara Miles stepping higher up the pitch in her last game before her travels, and it felt like a goal would come. In the end, it was probably not a surprise that the goal was a little messy when it came. A well worked PC found Sophie Boyle in space on the right, and her cross-shot led to Libby Shepherd working hard to step in front of the defender and GK to get to the ball first and fire home from close range. The team had 10 minutes to score another, and whilst they pressed hard, they were unable to convert with the Sutton GK making yet more saves.
A good game, with Sutton probably deserving a point due to the stoicism of their defending, and hopefully more learning for this young Sils team around what small margins need to be worked on to win tight games like this. Far post deflections, stronger tackling at times, and working hard to get in front of defenders in the D are hopefully the key take-aways for the players - but next week will see a totally different match, with Nuneaton beating Leamington this week to move back to within 6 points of Sils at the top meaning the result next week is critical to the overall outcome of the season.