TAFC U15 Girls v. Caterham Pumas
4 - 4
In one of the most nail-biting matches of the season Teddington Athletic Under 15 Girls took on highflying Caterham Pumas and came within a big cat's whisker of securing a memorable win. Caterham had convincingly beaten Teddington twice already this season, so for the girls to hold their opponents to a draw must be celebrated.
Last week's match against Rushmoor Community was a difficult match to draw conclusions from with players taking on unfamiliar roles. Today's contest was a true test and so it was a surprise to both sides that Teddington not only drew first blood but dominated a first half that was full of physical battles and decisive attacking intent. Teddington were utilising a series of forward balls that fell delightfully between the retreating Caterham back four and their keeper. They were the kind of passes that strikers like Emily and Kitty dream of. These lofted balls were not only supplied by the midfield quartet of Catia, Emma, Kate and Lauren but it seemed that Neave and Harriet were also keen to get in on the act. The opening goal came as Emily turned the defence and chased a ball toward the Caterham end. Winger Willow was there in support and bravely challenged the keeper. The ball somehow squeezed through and bobbled over the line (1-0). Caterham aren't used to going behind and immediately drew a double save from Jess' knee. They were stung into life but quickly swatted away by Harriet and Neave in defence.
The blustering wind benefited Teddington in the first half and complimented their up and under tactics. Emma was at her creative best, not only did she exploit the conditions but she took a large number of long throws and corners that pinned Caterham back into their half. Kitty was full of running and the side is always better for having her revving her engine at the opposition. She won and then converted a corner taken by Harriet. The six yard box was congested and it was hard to see the exact point of impact but you couldn't miss the net exploding with the force of Kitty's shot (2-0). She wasn't done there, Kate pumped a pass forward and Kitty skilfully slid the ball under the Caterham goalie's body (3-0). She could have had a hattrick but unfortunately her third goal was disallowed for offside. Caterham tried valiantly to fight back but again and again they came up against Issy at right back. She has grown in stature this season, and her name was heard more than any other from the crowd on the touchline.
With the wind in their favour Caterham were expected to blow Teddington apart in the second half. It was a prediction that Emily defiantly rejected as she latched onto a long throw from Issy. A largely solo effort was brilliantly finished as she dribbled past the Caterham defence and then danced around the keeper too (4-0). With four goals in the bank Teddington switched off and Caterham made them pay as a powerful driving shot rocketed over Jess (4-1). Caterham regained their purpose, Lauren and Catia had their hands full in midfield, Kate went on a series on mazy runs desperately battling against the wind. The defence was heroic with Lydia's speed saving Teddington on a number of occasions and Issy's towering presence a beacon of defiance. Caterham had four corners in a row and despite a rearguard effort from Harriet the ball kept coming back as though it were on a strip of elastic. Eventually a chance stuck, the wind filled the Caterham sails and they rode their confidence as though it were a crest of a wave (4-2).
With a quarter of the match remaining it felt like Caterham would not only draw but go onto win this match. Teddington showed tremendous resilience in this period. Kate won a number of 50/50 tackles in midfield, Emily marauded forward and had chances for more goals, Kitty never gave up. Despite this, Caterham scored again (4-3). Teddington fought back even harder, Emma pushed her team into Caterham's half with a series of corners. With a handful of minutes left a solo run brought Caterham level (4-4), and they even had a chance to win the match with a corner in the dying seconds. Yet however hard Caterham and the wind huffed and puffed they still couldn't blow the Teddington house down.
Well done to the girls, that was a full 80 minutes of hard graft. A good draw against a strong and skilful side.
Thank you to Demetrios for managing the girls and keeping calmer than everyone else on the sideline, thank you to Rohan was being our linesman, to the referee and to Caterham for an epic battle.
TAFC Team: Emily, Catia, Emma, Neave, Harriet, Lydia, Issy, Jess, Willow, Lauren, Kitty, Kate
Goals: Kitty (2) Emily (1), Willow (1)
Player of the match: Issy (Chosen by Simon)
Shots: TAFC 17 - 23 Caterham
Shots on target: TAFC 14 - 17 Caterham