The Women’s 3rd Team continued their BUCS 3A campaign last Wednesday at home to Glasgow 2ndTeam. Thus far, the team have had what seems to be quite a frustrating season. They currently sit at the bottom of 3A in search of their first points of the season, having failed to draw or win a match. But they have had a number of close matches which include narrow losses to Glasgow 2s and Stirling 3s. Furthermore, whilst at the bottom of 3A, they are only 3 points adrift of the next team. Going into the return fixture against Glasgow 2s there was certainly much to be optimistic about, knowing a victory would allow them to move up the table and kick start their 2020 BUCS campaign.
The conditions of the match were as expected for a Scottish winter afternoon – wet, windy and cold. Despite the midmorning sunshine, as kick-off neared, conditions worsened. Yet the conditions of the surface were, as usual for University Park, immaculate. This meant that the Women’s 3s would be able to keep the ball on the ground and play, which is what they largely did throughout the match.
The game kicked off, with St Andrews starting the match and, given the wind was behind them throughout the first half, they should have perhaps used this more. In the opening moments of the match, no team really asserted dominance over the game. Yet after the first 10 minutes and against the run of play the 3s centre back and Captain, in the eyes of the ref, brought down the Glasgow 2s attacker. Without asserting too much bias, it appeared more as if the Glasgow player fell over herself rather then being fouled, but obviously not the easiest decision to make by the referee.
Yet, this allowed the team from Glasgow to have a free kick in a dangerous position. The freekick, which was just outside the Saints box, was promptly and clinically converted by Glasgow. The Women’s 3rd team now were trailing 1-0 in the early stages of the match.
The 30 minutes which followed can best be described in one word – dogged. What was an ideal surface to play on, was being battered by the rain and 22 players moving across the pitch. The Glasgow 2s were quite happy to defend and counter when possible, whilst the Saints persistently tried to build and break down the Glasgow defence. Centre midfielder Hannah Whitfield and right-wing Emma Lefebvre combined well together and caused problems for the Glasgow left-back. The Women’s 3s are a side in the Football Club known for their tremendous team spirit and being a tight unit. This was clear from the chanting and support offered from the subs and number of injured 3s players who came to watch. Whilst the final product was lacking, commitment and hard work were most certainly not.
In defence the Saints were equal to any of their opponents’ attacks. In goal Katy Poulter, made one or two important saves in the mid to late stages of the first half. Including a particularly menacing counterattack down the Saints left-hand side which Poulter was able to thwart.
Football can often be a very unfair game. Today’s fixture was no exception. For all the effort and good play which the home side had made, Glasgow was able to double their lead in the final minutes of the first half. The 3rd team’s back four cleared a Glasgow attack, only for the ball to land at the feet of a Glasgow centre midfielder. Opportunistically from a good 10 metres outside of the Saints box, the midfielder hit a shot which sailed into the top left corner of the home side’s goal. Not even Poulter could stop that strike, 2-0 Glasgow.
Whilst I would not say conceding a goal that late into the first half was soul-destroying, it was certainly a demoralising knock considering that the Saints were dominant throughout the first half. Going into the second half, the 3s were going to have to roll their sleeves up and put in some seriously hard graft to salvage the two-goal deficit which they faced.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half were fairly slow. But as the game progressed it was not the Saints which grew in confidence, but unfortunately Glasgow. The Glasgow team started to become far more direct and began to ask further questions of the trailing side. Shots began to fly toward the St Andrews goal and the game became increasingly one side.
Just 20 minutes into the second half, the away side drew first blood. This took their lead to 3-0. 10 minutes later, the opposition took their lead to 4-0. The side were very much in the driving seat at this stage of the match. At this stage the away team could have been 6-0 up as they had missed 2 penalties during the second half. With 5 minutes left in the match, Glasgow fired (quite literally) a parting shot, this took their lead to 5-0. The game ended 5-0.
Whilst on paper it was a disappointing result for the home side. Many positives can be taken from the game. Through speaking to the team’s captain (Lauren Archer) many players have come back from injury and this was one of the first matches where the squad was nearly at full strength. Further, there were a number of strong individual performances. Notably, Katy Poulter, who was the home team’s man of the match, pulled off a number of fantastic saves. At times, the Saints’ attack looked really dangerous, but sadly they were not rewarded for their efforts with a goal. Hopefully, the third team can build from this game and finish the season strongly!