CLP SOCIAL MEDIA SEP2023 355

"Quality is not an act, it is a habit" - Aristotle.

 

Sunday, the 24th of September saw Knaresborough Town Women return to league action at Manse Lane for the first time this season.

Autumnal weather had returned, although it was reasonably warm, the skies were dark grey, and it looked like it could rain at any moment. In fact, the forecast was for rain to start at the beginning of the match and stop near full time.

We can report [with some relief] that apart from a few spots of rain midway through the second half, the conditions were almost perfect for playing football.

We couldn’t have asked for more difficult opponents to start the campaign at home, with the visit of Athletico FC Women. The visitors are the early pacesetters in division two, having won all their opening three games, amassing an impressive goal difference of +16.

As we said in the match preview, Athletico represent formidable opponents, a team that presents a different type of challenge to almost all of our previous games, and in our view, are a team that we could measure ourselves against.

With the summer holidays ending, players have been returning to training, providing Mike, Austen, and Scott with a selection headache. As we have a small and compact squad, we are however, still missing a few key players to illness and injury, but were fortunate enough to be able to name two substitutes.

This game also saw a return of Veo, and highlights from the game will be available on our YouTube channel in the next 24 hours.

The exchanges in the first 45 were exactly as we expected, both teams attempting to bring the ball down to feet, gain good possession, and build attacks by passing and moving. It was instantly clear that Athletico are a very accomplished team, with some excellent players who not only possess pace, but an abundance of skill too.

Town raced out of the blocks, scrapping for possession, and attempted to implement some of the patterns of play practised during training sessions. This quickly paid off as Eva Jenkins chipped the Athletico keeper to put Knaresborough Town one goal to the good in the first five minutes, 1-0.

Shortly after, Grace Adams ran through with the ball, one-on-one with the keeper, again, hitting the ball to one side of the advancing stopper only to see it saved. Grace, not to be denied, was first to react - controlling the ball and taking it around the keeper before calmly, slotting it home to double Town’s advantage, 2-0.

The visitors seemed a little out of sorts at this point, with a number of chances presenting themselves for Boro’ to increase their lead, however they weren’t taken and as Athletico settled back into their rhythm they started to press forward, searching for a way back into the game.

It wasn’t a surprise when they managed to grab their first of the match, as a result of some great passing and running into spaces behind Knaresborough’s defence, 2-1.

At this point It was clear that this wasn’t going to be one of those afternoons where Knaresborough Town Women ran away with the result.

Boro’ spurred on by conceding a goal, immediately fought back. A few more chances came Town’s way, and again it really wasn’t a surprise when Grace Adams grabbed her second of the day and Knaresborough’s third to restore a two-goal advantage, 3-1.

Just before half-time Cass Lane running in on goal, grabbed Knaresborough Town Women’s fourth goal, giving the home team what appeared to be a comfortable three-goal cushion and being honest, underlined how well they had played during the first 45 minutes, 4-1.

There had been a few stoppages during the first half, and this resulted in over 10 minutes of injury time being added before the half-time whistle blew.

Having looked at Athletico’s results for the three games that they have already played this season, it is clear that they are team who are athletic and have an excellent level of fitness. This is shown by the fact that they score a lot of goals in the second 45 of games, and despite Town being three goals ahead, Boro’ couldn’t take the result for granted.

The second half kicked off pretty much where the first 45 minutes had finished, with Knaresborough Town looking to get forward and create more opportunities to score. In the first 15 minutes of the second half, Boro’ created a number of chances and half chances from which they perhaps should have increased their lead, but didn’t.

What did happen, was that Athletico were increasingly controlling passages of play and pushing Knaresborough back into their own half. The visitors weren’t creating many clear-cut goalscoring opportunities, but at one point were seemingly camped in and around Town’s penalty box.

Athletico’s quality of play and possession were evident during this spell.

That’s not to say that Knaresborough Town didn’t pose a threat, and when they did get the ball, they came forward meaningfully, invariably managing to create goal-scoring opportunities.

Throughout the second 45, Knaresborough Town managed to create around five or six golden chances to increase their lead and put the game to bed. Unfortunately, they were unable to convert any of those chances into goals.

Again, it wasn’t a surprise when Athletico managed to put a shot across an advancing Ella Ritchie, Boro’s keeper, stroking the ball into the far corner of the goal to make it 4-2. I don’t think anybody would’ve begrudged Athletico the goal, which their play richly deserved, 4-2.

Strangely, instead of spurring-on the visitors to encircle the Knaresborough Town goal, this seemingly woke Boro’ up, to press forward and threaten their opponent’s goal instead. If Athletico’s goal had come 10 minutes earlier in the second half, then perhaps they may have had time to score the two goals needed to at least get a draw out of the game, but time was now against them, and the game was swinging back in favour of the home team.

Again, a few stoppages meant that the second 45 had around 10 minutes or so of injury time, but both teams were seemingly cancelling each other out at this point, and it was clear that the result and the day would be Knaresborough’s.

The final whistle went, and Knaresborough Town Women had won the game 4-2, collected three points, and had shown why they are such a good team.

When looking at the table and the teams that play in Division Two, it is evident that it is made up of some very good teams, and Athletico are clearly one of the best in the league. That is why, even though this is very early on in the fixtures, this is such a critical result.

We fully expect Athletico to be challenging for one of the two promotion spots come the end of the season, and certainly, in the opinion of this commentator, will be in the top three when the league finishes in April.

Athletico are technically a very good team, some very fast players, who are extremely skilful, playing as a cohesive unit, and are well coached – showing that they implement on match day what they have learnt on the training grounds during the week.

We wish the visitors all the best for their league campaign, and we are looking forward to the return fixture later on in the season.

Next week we see the return of cup action to Manse Lane, as we welcome Boroughbridge Ladies in the first round of the WRCWFL League Cup. We hope to see you there!

Goals: Grace Adams 2; Eva Jenkins 1; Cass Lane 1.

Player of the Match: Grace Adams; Goal of the Game: Eva Jenkins.

Referee: Alessandro De Marco