Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Jersey Ladies 6 v 1 Hitra Ladies

Monday 27th June  2011
Island Games, Women's Tournament, Group A
Slade Road Recreation Ground, Ryde
Admission: £3.00
Tournament Programme: £3
Match day programme: 20p
Attendance: 40
Match Rating: 4

For my second day on the Isle of Wight taking in football at the Island Games, a desire to visit grounds I had not visited before, combined with a favourable schedule, ensured that I would watch exclusively women's football today, starting with a 11.30 kick off at the home of Oakfield, members of the Isle of Wight Saturday League. This matched pitted Jersey against the Norwegian island of Hitra.

The Slade Road Recreation Ground is located about a twenty minute walk from Ryde Esplanade (where the catamaran and hovercraft land from the mainland), or about a ten minute walk from Ryde St Johns Road train station. As is the case with most grounds in the Isle of Wight Saturday League, facilities are very basic, with no floodlights and the pitch was just roped off, no permanent barriers, and there is no hard standing, although there are permanent dugouts. There has been some investment in facilities though, as one enters the ground, behind one of the goals, is a large modern clubhouse with seating outside under gazebos (almost certainly only for the duration of the Island Games), to the other side are brick changing rooms. Behind one length of the pitch are views of a valley of housing, behind the other, backs of houses tightly line the ground.

Neither of the two sides made a good start to their 2011 Island Games campaign, both losing their opening games yesterday, Jersey  0-5 to the reigning champions, the Aland Islands, and Hitra lost 0-3 to the hosts, the Isle of Wight. Neither team made it to the group stages last time out, Jersey winning two and losing two in their group in 2009, whereas Hitra, the first time they had entered the women's football competition, managed just a point from their four games, conceding 23 goals in the process.

On a very warm and sunny morning, the opening exchanges pointed to a fairly even game, however on 10 minutes, Jersey opened the scoring when a pinpoint cross was headed in by Kerry Sauvage. Jersey extended their lead to two on 22 minutes, when Jodie Botterill, who had created chance after chance with her pace breaking clear of defence but was offered no support whatsoever on each occasion, dribbled in from the touchline before placing a delicate finish beyond the keeper. With half an hour on the clock, Hitra should have reduced the deficit when a one-on-one was struck straight at the keeper, but on 37 minutes they did manage to pull a goal back when an expertly judged chip from fully 30 yards by Nina Antonsen dipped over the keeper and into the net, even though the keeper was barely off her line. Just four minutes later though and Jersey restored their two goal lead, when a Tara Marie drive beat the keeper at the near post. The game was seemingly put to bed on the stroke of half time, when a defender couldn't control a long ball over the top, leaving Botterill with a one-on-one, but the stand-out player of the match showed good composure as she sidestepped the keeper before stroking the ball into the empty net for her second goal of the game.

The 4-1 scoreline was harsh on Hitra, with Jersey's clinical finishing the difference between the two sides. The second half started off rather uneventfully, perhaps not surprising given the game was as good as over, the hot conditions and this being the second game both teams have played in two days, but on 65 minutes, Jersey stretched their lead to 5-1, with a powerful header by Sauvage from a corner for her second of the game. The following quarter of an hour continued to be uneventful, until with around ten minutes remaining, I had to leave this match in order to make my way to Shanklin for my next game. In that remaining period, Jersey scored again, making the final score an emphatic 6-1, Botterill claiming her very well-deserved hat-trick.

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