Hampton-in-Arden 1st XI 1 - 3 Old Silhillians 1st XI
By Stephen Tabb
Great match ends with Sils staying top
Hampton-in-Arden 1st XI 1 (0) - (0) 3 Old Silhillians 1st XI
Goalscorers: Frankie Levey, Libby Shepherd, Caro Kappes
At the start of the day, Sils were sitting top, 1 point ahead of Hampton, but with this being a late start, and with Atherstone winning, both sides knew they needed to win to go back to the top of the league.
Hampton are a good side, with no stand out superstars, but with threats from all over the pitch, and Sils knew they would have to play well to take the victory. This is what they did, particularly in the first half, but the Sils were met with a home GK in fabulous form. At half-time the score was 0-0, but Sils had created many chances and were playing some great stuff, but Lana Ryan (who has guested for Sils U14s and U16s in previous years) was equal to anything that the visiting time could throw at her. Meanwhile, at the other end, the pace of another ex-Sils player, Naomi Ennis, was causing occasional issues with Hampton actually coming closest to scoring following a great piece of GKing by Jo Brett as she slid out to meet the oncoming attacker only for the ball to fall to another striker who in pushing the ball past Jo, was not able to beat the covering Clara Miles who cleared the ball away from the goal line.
The team were still positive at half-time, though Sophie Boyle was feeling a little battered and bruised after a tough first-half.
The second half started differently to the first half had played out. Hampton were beginning to have more of the ball, with their forwards now working harder to provide options and break the dominant Sils press. This led to the home team creating more chances, and whilst Sils also had further shots saved by Ryan in goal for Hampton, Hampton ended up taking the lead through a looping "drag-flick" from a PC, which, due to its flight, deceived Brett in goal, and found the bottom corner.
Thankfully, going a goal down caused the Sils to shift up a gear, and from here on in, the Sils began to create even more chances. Their first goal was slightly fortuitous but does reflect what happens when we can get the ball to our more instinctive forwards near the goal. A shot from Caro Kappes was stopped by Frankie Levey, which deceived the home GK, and then Levey flicked the ball home on her reverse to equalise. A few minutes later and the Sils had taken the lead - Libby Shepherd doing what she does best and converting a half-chance at the far post (after an initial save by the GK).
With the team still only one goal up, Hampton always had a chance to get back into it on the break, but the combined defences of Hattie Evans, Sophie Williams, Lucy Connors and Clara Miles worked hard to snuff out any danger and allowed the Sils to mount further attacks. Sils began playing some really flowing stuff, with Annabel Dalby impressing down the left, one run in particular leading to the ball naroowly missing the far post as she danced past the home defence, and then Boyle also missing by inches following a run down the right by Kappes.
The deciding goal came in typical Kappes fashion though - Shepherd and Kappes worked hard to win the ball on the right hand side of atack, and Kappes was able to turn inside and flash a reverse-stick shot into the far corner.
With the raucous home crowd now quietened, there was still time for Kappes to hit the bar with another reverse-stick strike, before the final whistle blew, and the Sils had secured the three points.
Player of the Match could have gone to anyone, but Sophie Boyle took the honours in the end.