Stratford 2 - 1 Old Silhillians
By Stephen Tabb
Youngsters learn more valuable lessons
Stratford 2 (1) - (1) 1 Old Silhillians
Goalscorer: Libby Shepherd
Sils travelled to Warwick School for their one fixture there this Summer, with 7 players aged Under 18, and a further 3 aged 19-21; taking on a Stratford side who are second in the league. Whilst Stratford also had a few youngsters, their team did look slightly more experienced than Sils, and this ultimately, was the telling factor. In what was a very even half, Stratford started the stronger, but then Sils came back into the game and probably had the better chances before Stratford scored from a Penalty Corner - guest goalkeeper Ali Williams making an outstanding double save, but was not able to stop the third effort from being poked home from close range.
However, with youngsters Imogen Pemble and Anya Hemming covering masses of ground, and combining with Tamara Majevadia down the left, half chances were coming, and minutes after the Stratford goal, Libby Shepherd reacted one of these half chances, cleverly flicking the ball home on her reverse to score the equaliser.
Shortly before half-time Williams was called upon to make another outstanding save, deflecting the ball into an oncoming attacker, preventing an almost certain goal.
The second half continued in a very similar close fashion, though with Stratford stepping up and playing higher up the pitch to put more pressure on the Sils goal. In the end, the game was a battle between high energy levels from the Sils versus experience and more direct play by Stratford; with the Stratford side being well controlled and driven by their two first team centre-backs. Chances were few and far between, but Ali Williams was definitely the busier of the two GKs, and hence it was probably a fair result that Stratford won 2-1, scoring the winner with an early shot from the top of the D, which caught Williams off guard as her foot got stuck and she was unable to make the save at her near post. Strong performances from Jess Cox and guest Claire Wright in midfield and at the back, were only just pipped to Player of the Match by Anya Hemming's display in midfield, regularly carrying the ball intelligently and looking to make dynamic lead runs.
Disappointing to lose, but as long as the youngsters keep reflecting on what worked well, and what was less effective, these Summer matches will prove invaluable when it comes to the main Winter season.