Helen "of Troy", and her fellow troops, fight a hard battle against a second half Wanderers onslaught: [07/03/15]
A superb performance from ex-Scotland player Helen Walker (pictured) in an eventual, second half, deep defensive role, alongside sweeper Frances Lonergan (a really confident display from the youngster) and an on-form keeper Kirsten Stobo, went a long way to stopping visitors Dundee Wanderers from actually winning this game.
The first 35 minutes was pretty routine; Western probably had the better part of the possesion and pressure, although their final ball to the lethal Anna-Mae Morton was lacking in accuracy to ever have Wanderers in any real trouble.
The ladies from Dundee defended well with Rachel Osbourne and co, under said pressure but coping well, sweeping up trouble and distributing the ball comfortably. Wanderers played the lone striker up high, so high in fact she was keeping MCCW's keeper, Stobo, within chatting distance.
Under the majority of pressure from Western, Dundee's game was counter attacking when possible - and they mounted a few of these attacks, frustratingly hanging on to the ball just too long and falling foul of some great tackling from the ladies in orange. But, despite it all, and at the very least against the run of play, Wanderers scored a great break-away goal 25 minutes in. Joy indeed for the ladies from Tayside looking good in their new strips.
Predictably, the joy was extremely short lived as Western finally capitalised on their own pressure and scored a well deserved goal not long before the umpire blew time on the first 35.
In truth, the first half was full of gusto and good intention from both sides, but it wasn't the greatest game of hockey...but goodness, that all changed in the second half!
The Western ladies must have wondered what hit them right from push-back, in the second period, as Wanderers came out all guns blazing. Wave after wave of attacks, orchestrated mostly by the ever-feisty Becky Ward and utility girl Heather Elder (there can't be many positions she can't play), fed a midfield and attack populated by eager we-want-the-ball youngsters, including the mightily impressive teenagers, schoolgirls Emily Dark, Charlotte Watson and Kirsty Nicol, who's attacks were aggressive, positive and skilful - they're a real find and a great example of the many exciting youngsters coming through in Scotland right now.
Western have real pedigree throughout and have had it for decades, and although they struggled in what was now a fantastically exciting game, they didn't look like a team that was going to lose.
Wanderers could have won this game, but there was an orange wall stopping them - just! The Western defence are a canny bunch at the best of times, and it showed today through the experience of Helen Walker, dropping deep and expertly marshalling Frances Lonergan and co, as they dealt with the brilliant enthusiasm (and at times understandable naivety) of the Wanderers teenagers, eager to play as well as they can, alongside the old(er) heads in the Wanderers squad.
So, a 1-1 draw it ended. A great second half and definitely a fair result overall for both teams missing important players who return from Scotland Ladies training in Valencia, today.
There were a number of Woman of the Match contenders out there at Titwood, yesterday. It's so close, but for MCC Western it has to be the oldest (sorry Helen!) player on the park, Helen Walker. And it's mighty close within the Wanderers ranks, but one of the youngest players on the park just edges it - midfielder Kirsty Nicol.
FINAL SCORE: MCC Western 1 Dundee Wanderers 1 [Titwood, Glasgow - 07/03/2015]
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