The day of CJ

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Wing Wonder scores a brace to win the day

On a drizzly Dartford day, and on a less than welcoming pitch, the U’s maintained their 100% start to the season with a 0-2 away victory against Parkwood Rangers. Both goals came in the first half, courtesy of Clare Johnson.

The game started in bizarre fashion, as after a few minutes, the home goalkeeper (who isn’t a goalkeeper by trade) picked up a backpass. And, instead of the free kick being given from where the goalkeeper picked up the ball, it was given from where the backpass was played. Despite the protests, the referees decision of the free kick being from where the pass was played stood. But, the complaints soon ceased when the blocked free kick was clinically finished into the far corner by Johnson. An eventful opening three minutes ending with the U’s a goal to the good.

The game tightened greatly after that. The narrowness of the pitch playing a massive part. The ground was also rock hard, which meant the bounce of the ball was slightly awkward.

That’s when the ball was bouncing, of course. A lot of the battle was locked in the midfield, with the likes of Georgia Tibble, who returned to the line up today, just couldn’t find the space to really pose a threat. Whilst Hamilton in the Hastings goal had little to do, the strikers were also struggling to make the desired impact.

Despite this, the U’s overriding quality meant they were able to sneak a second twelve minutes before the break. An excellent move ended with a cross, which Johnson was more than happy to finish into the far corner, and the constant pressure prevailed to ensure a two goal lead at the interval.

HT : Parkwood Rangers 0-2 Hastings Utd

The second half saw a change in dynamic as it went on. The fitness of the Hastings side paid dividends, as from as early as six minutes into the half they were exploiting the newly emerging space. The crossbar was rattled a not so measly three times in the second half, with the first one coming that six minutes in, when a half cleared opportunity was met by Rebecca Relf, who hit her effort, as sweet as a nut, off the crossbar, which continued to rattle for minutes afterwards.

The next goalmouth action was another that hit the woodwork. It was Nicole Baitup this time, who drove down the right hand side before releasing a near post rocket, that shook the post, which had only just recovered from the skippers effort twelve minutes earlier.

The roll on roll off system was paying dividends and helped see the U’s through, making sure injuries didn’t become the main story of the day on the hard ground. One of the subs, Minnie Sheppard came closest next, when a cross made its way to the back post, which she took and, after some clever footwork, fired into the side netting.

The final striking of the crossbar came a few minutes from time. A strike from distance again, this time from Georgia Tibble, hit the top of the bar. Another close call to end a tie which will go down, as Billy Wood describes it, as ‘an ugly win’.

FT : Parkwood Rangers 0-2 Hastings Utd

The Ry-view – Sometimes you win pretty, sometimes you don’t. This was one of those don’ts. It was a tough game in every department, but the winning mentality of the team helped them push through and maintain their 100% record and keep a third clean sheet in four league matches. Next week against Ashford will be a key one, as they sit just below the U’s in second position.

Hastings Utd : Hamilton, Carter, Phillips, Critchfield (Reed), Relf ©, Corrigan (Sharp), Hyland, Tibble, Johnson (Baitup), Williams (Hill), Heather (Sheppard)

POTM – Clare Johnson

Next Fixture – Ashford Utd (A), 3pm KO, 26/9/21

Ryan Segal