Match Report
Haileybury Girls 2nd XI vs  Sevenoaks School
On: Saturday, 07 Dec 2019
Venue: Away

Where has the term gone?! A final game against an unbeaten Sevenoaks side was a great way for a superb Haileybury unit to sign off and, with several players now back from injury an almost full strength side was available.

Sadly, Haileybury were a little bit slow to recover from their bus journey and were a goal down within two minutes after a quick counter. The normal slick passing wasn't quite there and, even more surprisingly, the massive work rate that is synonymous with this side had gone missing. Not for no reason are Sevenoaks unbeaten and they had the pace and skill to take full advantage in the early exchanges. But for Issy Tyers being in supreme form in goal, the game could have been over within 15 minutes but some great saves (despite finding herself outnumbered several times) meant that the damage was limited to 2.

Haileybury started to find more of a way into the game with Emilie Mathieu's pace out wide looking threatening every time the ball came her way. Two really great chances came and went but Haileybury were still guilty of a lack of ball pace and precision in possession at times and Sevenoaks still had the upper hand. A short corner on the stroke of half time offered a way back into the game but an excellent double save (first from the goalie and then from the defender getting the rebound away) preserved the Sevenoaks lead.

The main request at half time was for the side to work harder (along with a couple of other bits thrown in). The result was spectacular as a truly excellent second half unfolded with both sides fully playing their part. Haileybury came to life and showed an intensity and desire that had been slightly lacking. Crucially, this was combined with some really good decision making and some really savvy tactical play with the ball often thrown into space down the channels for the forwards to chase. Tilly Allen was almost omnipresent with the way she got herself around the park and the veterans in midfield (Lizzie Hughes, Immy Brace and Marie Assimakopolous-Galka) came to the party too in terms of closing down, harrying, ball winning and distributing.

The back line similarly had an excellent second half - marking tightly and denying space to the quick Sevenoaks front line. A fired-up Ellie Blakemore also distributed superbly down the flank, driving the team forwards.

The move of the game almost created a first Haileybury goal but, after superb work down the right from Blakemore and Mathieu, Juliet Kearey's lovely lead was picked out, only for her deft flick on to skim agonisingly past the post. Haileybury were not to be denied, however, and Kearey finished with aplomb (after another good move down the right) with 4 minutes to go to set up a grandstand finish.

The coach's decision to pull off a centre back and chase the result could have been a masterstroke on another day; however, on this occasion it backfired badly as having been applying pressure up top, a turnover and fast break saw Haileybury outnumbered at the back and left the Sevenoaks forwards the opportunity to work the ball past Tyers and, despite a great effort from Blakemore on the line, into the goal with 30 seconds to go.

The final score was 3-1 and Sevenoaks were good for their win; nevertheless, the Haileybury side showed (as they have done all season) tremendous character and skill and could be very proud of the way they ended their season.

Player of the season points:

2 - Issy Tyers. Sevenoaks could have been out of sight within 15 minutes but for Issy. Strong, agile and confident in goal she produced a string of stunning saves.

2 - Emilie Mathieu. A stunning display of non-stop, direct, threatening leading and ball carrying. Every time she got the ball it looked like she could unlock the defence.

1 - Tilly Allen. Led the second half resurgence with a hugely committed display. Added a vast number of tackles to her impressive dribbling and passing.

1 - Ellie Blakemore. Another who left absolutely everything on the pitch. Her decision making (both in defence and in attack) was superb and her distribution out from the back was a constant way of relieving pressure.