Report by Jim Sherring
Southgate 4 Bedford 0
The U18 Girls won through to the quarter finals of the National Championship with a hard fought 4-0 victory over an obdurate Bedford team. This certainly wasn’t as comfortable as the score suggests with the team a little below par and Bedford as ever strong in the tackle and determined. It took 13 minutes to break the visitors down, when a flowing move down the left hand side saw Hannah drive into the D, her pass found Grace K who managed to work the ball into a position where she could push it past the keeper. Both keepers had been busy up to that point and they continued to be heavily employed as chances were created a squandered at both ends. When Chaela was beaten from a scramble after a short corner Grace Best was there on the line to keep the ball out with an excellent clearance.
We were almost caught out at the start of the second quarter when the team were sluggish getting back onto the pitch and the quick thinking Bedford forward took the restart and charged towards our goal only for Hannah to somehow recover and dispossess her as she was going to equalise. Grace was involved again as we took a 2-0 lead before half time, when she raced into the penalty area the keeper cynically brought her down to prevent a goal. The keeper earned a card and Hannah dispatched the penalty flick past a slightly reluctant defender on the line.
Although we led 2-0 at half time the team knew they could do far better. Chaela had been forced into a couple of excellent saves to keep the clean sheet, whilst we had created more than enough good chances to be out of sight of our opponents.
With the heat playing a part in sapping energy on both sides and affecting judgement the card count rose with both sides losing players at various points in the 2nd half. Southgate gained more control of the game after the half time break but were still not putting the chances away, but it was the Bedford goal leading a charmed life at this stage. Right at the end of the 3rd quarter Ella found Grace in the D with a penetrating pass, her turn and push across the goal was met by Scarlett who applied the finishing touch and a 3-0 lead which made the game safe.
Legs became very heavy as the heat told in the final quarter, a quick break allowed Grace to add our 4th only a few minutes after the restart. Bedford never threw in the towel and kept pushing right to the end and our pace slackened but the defence held firm to ensure a shut out.
Next up Harleston Magpies the same opponents the U18’s overcame last season at the quarter final stage. It is likely to be another tough assignment for the team.