Wednesday November 13th heralded the return fixture against Grace Dieu, this time on home territory. The visitors fielded a much stronger side than at the first meeting; in fact they were using the fixture as a warm up for their appearance in the IAPs national finals later in the week. As such Smallwood knew they were going to have their work cut out.
It was an extremely hard fought, close game. Grace Dieu had some skilled players but Smallwood were equal to them, showing speed and determination. Captain Ella H. was superb throughout, commanding midfield and remaining utterly reliable from start to finish combining great skills with an unerring knack to always be just in the right place at the right time. Caitlin and Abi, starting at the back, made life very difficult indeed for the opposition who were thwarted time and again in their attempts to move the ball into the Smallwood D. And taking over from Abi for the middle part of the match, Allie made a very confident debut at left back, impressing with well-timed tackles and strong clears. In fact goalkeeper Nikki was only called on twice in the game but although Grace Dieu looked a dead cert to score, on both occasions Nikki used great quick feet to clear the ball from danger. It was a tough afternoon for Smallwood’s forwards against some fine defensive work. Ella P. ran tirelessly but never quite had the time to make the wide passes needed. Gaby and then Poppy N. acquitted themselves well on the left and indeed it was Gaby who showed some much needed composure on the ball turning sharply, looking for the pass to find her team mates. At the opposite side, on the right wing, the ever-competitive Poppy F. was ceaselessly determined in her tackling, using her speed to steal any loose balls. However, despite a couple of very good chances, Smallwood could not quite find the back board.
Not a good game for the blood pressure! In the end a draw was a fair reflection of the match and congratulations must go to the U11s who are still unbeaten this season.
Smallwood 0 – 0 Grace Dieu