Wellingborough Ladies played their first game of 2018 against Wildcatz, a team known for their clinical striking and excellent goalkeeping. The Boro Ladies were determined not to repeat their 7-3 loss from October, and though sheer determination and skill, kept the Wildcatz at bay by successfully drawing the team 0-0.
Despite the miserable sleety weather, Boro’s spirits could not be dampened. Excellent pre-match team talks by captain Jane Valentino and sideline coach Andrew O’Rourke, with Ladies coach Ian Knight’s tactics still ringing in their ears from Tuesday night, Boro started the game with force. High press and lots of energy created several chances for Boro early on in the first half. Taking the Wildcatz side by surprise, Boro created several short corner opportunities early on. Unfortunately, Boro were unable to convert, with most of the shots slipping just wide of the post.
Continuing with dogged effort (and feeling the effects of too many pies over Christmas), the Boro side created excellent chances up the right wing, with Maddie Russell and Lizzie Mead linking the defence and midfield, with Frankie Langley expertly covering the attacking half of the pitch. Jo Chapman became a force of nature in the middle of the park, and created superb runs for the defence to take advantage of. A swift pass to Frankie Langley on the top of the penalty circle, and a beautiful shot just missed Isabel Leslie-Carter’s outstretched stick for what could have been the deflection of the century. Isabel was not to be defeated: several fantastic deflections put her in the running for man of the match.
However, no man could match Pauline Woodthorpe. Woodthorpe’s inspired performance in central defence put her head and shoulders above the team. Knowing the Wildcatz side from long experience, her tracking of Wildcatz attacking players, constant energy, and superb clearances were recognised by the team.
With regular Boro goalkeeper, Sheila Nunn, out of action this week, a brave soul – Badgers’ goalkeeper Katie Norris – took up the reins. And what a performance she had – narrowly missing out on man of the match, she saved several excellent shots on the floor and in the air, which proved her to be one of the up-and-coming goalkeepers within the club.
Captain Valentino and sideline coach O’Rourke provided an excellent and inspirational teamtalk at half-time. Boro’s usual pattern of giving up in the second half was NOT going to be repeated in this game. The team took it to heart, and attackers Emily Plant, Sue Langley, and newcomer Katie Shouler worked perfectly together to maintain the attack on the Wildcatz defence with the whipping pace of Elise Ramoo, the attacks came swift and often. The effort was mirrored at the other end of the pitch, with POM Woodthorpe, Karen Patmore, Ella Valentino and Maddie Russell clearing up all and any of the Wildcatz attacks.
The final whistle blew, relieving the Boro side: to hold one of the toughest teams in the league to a 0-0 draw, and gaining one point as a result, was better than many other sides in that league could have done. Cheers to the Ladies! Next week, Boro face rivals Towcester 2s in what will undoubtedly be an equally determined and inspired performance.
Player of the Match: Pauline Woodthorpe
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