match report for the Darebin Falcons Girls’ West-North West-North 11 Joeys/Wallabies
It was a sodden Capp Reserve that greeted the Falcons this Sunday for their return encounter with Watsonia, a team who outclassed the girls earlier in the year in a game remembered for Ella “Braveheart” Byrne’s broken arm. As everyone will recall, in an epic display of the trademark Falcons courage, Ella broke her arm in the first half, then smashed through the pain barrier to play a starring role in the second half. Returned from injury, the nine and a half year old remarked before the game that she was “delighted to be back”, sensibly “taking it one week at a time” and “looking forward to getting on the field and having fun with my Falcons teammates”. Sipping on a latte before the game Anthony whispered, “I feel something special is going to happen here today.” Meanwhile, Dave “Offside” Nolan, the appointed referee for the day, was heard discussing with Falcons administrators whether he could borrow the ref’s whistle for use at home.
Thursday night’s training session saw Anthony focusing on passing and moving into space to receive return passes. A good first touch, an accurate pass and follow up movement into space allows the team to retain possession and move into attack or to stay organised and retain possession in defence when under pressure. The girls were reminded of their tasks, and as always, instructed to have as much fun as possible.
Playing without Eve who was a late omission with a virus, a squad of eleven splashed their way through a muddy – booted warm up and took to the field led by captain for the day Alyssa. The ever-sporting and generous Elena volunteered to play for Watsonia who were one player short. Elena played an outstanding game for Watsonia showing off her determination and silky skills in midfield and up forward. Well done Elena! Alyssa won the paper scissors rock, kicked off the game and the Falcons immediately put the Watsonia defence under pressure following some great passing and forward movement from Alyssa, Rose and Lani. Both teams played very well with Anika resilient in defence and dangerous in her forward movement. Playing across half back tucked in behind our midfielders, Lani repelled a series of Watsonia attacks and passed beautifully to Alyssa and Rose who were both responsible for setting up some great chances for our silky skilled strikers Ella and Isabelle. Our efforts in the midfield gave Aphra plenty of chances to demonstrate her nimble dribbling and creative passing. A whipping cross from Aphra on the wing was met sweetly by Isabelle’s right boot but her shot whistled just past the post and drew gasps from the sizeable crowd of Falcons and Watsonia supporters. Following some brilliant saves and huge kick outs from our goalie Eleni, Watsonia were able to break down our defence and scored a fine goal a few minutes from half time.
Romy kindly agreed to don the gloves for goalkeeping duties in the game’s second stanza. The Preston girl instantly made the position her own, maintaining an authoritative and calming influence on our defence and complimented this with a series of outstanding saves that drew roars of appreciation from our supporters as well as gasps of disbelief and rueful admiration from the Watsonia players.
Focused on Anthony’s half time instructions, the Falcons began to play a more fluid passing game that drew comparisons with the Matildas and the current men’s World Cup holders Spain. Lani, Rose, Ella, Anika and Isabelle began stringing together passes that demonstrated the value of practice and hard work in training and left the Watsonia players feeling dizzy. This passing effectiveness made our forward thrusts irresistible and created a space for the quick thinking Alyssa to slot a superb right footed goal from just inside the box! Screams of delight ensued and hugs all round before the game restarted with ten minutes remaining. Both teams played bravely and skilfully in the difficult conditions causing Falcons administrators to wonder whether they ought to charge admission for the privilege of watching such high quality football. The gorgeous rhythm of the Falcons passing game and player movement inevitably led to another scoring chance and the fleet-footed Anika popped up to bang home her second goal in as many weeks and sealed victory for the Falcons! “A fantastic team effort against quality opposition” remarked Anthony after the game before leading the girls in three cheers for Watsonia. As predicted by the sage coach, something special indeed. Following a celebratory Falcons Shuffle, Alessandra led the team in a full-throated rendition of the team song. Well done Falcons!!!