Beavers kick the new season off with a 5-4 win
Ladies arrived at Raynes Park Vale FC ready and raring to go for their first game of the season away to Battersea and Wandsworth. Battersea & Wandsworth, recently relegated from the league above were very much up for the challenge against the newly promoted Beavers.
Manager, Leah Ambridge, was keen to kick things off with a win and excited to give some of the great new signings a proper run out. Battersea put the pressure on straight from kick off and put Hampton on the back foot for the first 15 minutes. Luckily the ladies managed to soak up the pressure, settling into the game and keeping a clean sheet. 20 minutes in resident left back Becky Payne had to leave the field with an unfortunate calf injury, leaving Leah with no choice but to change things up in the back four. One of the fresh new signings Georgia McCowan stepped up to take the centre back spot alongside Allie, with Danielle Meades and Amy Trowle swapping left and right back positions.
It took a while to settle back into the game again, but when they did, Hampton's attack began to look dangerous. On the 25 minute mark, Amy put a perfect ball down the line to nippy right mid Bianca Underhill who tormented the Battersea left back before crossing into the box to find Katie Foster. 1-0 to the Beavers and Fosters first goal of the season!
Beavers pushed for a second, and 10 minutes later new signing Becky Tansey took a shifty run down the left wing before cutting it back to find Louise Clarke on the edge of the box. A left footed power shot, some might say 'screamer', into the top right corner from Clarke brought a well deserved second goal for the Beavers.
Battersea hadn't given up, and after winning a free kick on the edge of the box, their skilful number 9 stepped up with a long range shot to bring them back into the game 2-1.
Hampton reacted quickly, and with 5 minutes left of the half, a long ball was played through the Battersea back four. What looked like a dead pass, and as the ball was rolling back to the Battersea goal keeper, winger Bianca ran from right mid, to the far left of the 18 yard box managing to beat the Battersea defenders to the ball. Bianca tapped it past the Battersea keeper coming out to pressure, and wrapped a left foot round it to get her first goal of the season in the bag. Beavers went into half time 3-1 up.
Beavers kicking down hill in the second half didn't make things easy and brought a heavy battle for both teams. Central midfielders Kerry Celino and Hayley Lyon had to get stuck in, absorb the physical tackles and cope with some strong challenges to keep the beavers settled. It didn't take long for the ball to break down the right hand side once more, and an individual piece of skill from Bianca who took the left back on and beat the keeper once more smashing the left side netting brought the beavers to 4-1.
Another new addition, Alanna Rudd, came on to replace captain, Kerry Celino, after a bloody nose injury. Alanna came close to scoring her first goal with a great header from a corner which was unlucky to strike to the post and not the net.
Battersea kept the pressure on as they battled to get their second goal of the game, and keeper Paige Hornsell made some strong saves to keep them out of the game. Unfortunately Battersea got their second with some individual skill from their number 3 and a bit too much time on the edge of the box, score line 4-2.
The game's tempo changed again in the 80th minute as Louise Clarke bagged her second of the game making it 5-2. Two late strikes from Battersea brought the beavers hearts into their mouths, from what looked like a goal frenzy washout, Battersea had clawed themselves back into the game last minute bringing the scoreline back to 5-4. Luckily, the Beavers managed to hold tight for the final minutes and extra time to kick their new season off with cracking 3 points.
Some great attacking play, strength in midfield and defence and the new signings are really strengthening the team. Next week the Ladies welcome Bracknell to the Beveree for their first ever FA Cup match.