On a chilly evening the Whitehaven AFC Senior Lionesses welcomed neighbours and newly formed Allerdale Wildcats to a friendly match for the very first time.
The game began at a frantic pace between both teams as they attempted to get a quick start against each other, and there wasn‘t many clear cut chances directly on goal created.
For Whitehaven their dangers seemed to be from wide positions, Captain Kelsey Hunter always a threat down the left, beating her player and making good decisions with balls into dangerous positions. On the right wing was long term Goalkeeper Abi Wright who took to the role like a duck to water and was the stand out player in the opening 20mins for the Lionesses in attack, chasing every ball down and putting Allerdale defence under pressure, and the quality of her balls into central midfield and the striker was excellent.
It wasn’t one way traffic however and Allerdale striker was a constant threat throughout the game, keeping the Whitehaven defenders always on their toes and never able to relax. Allerdale striker pressed a number of times and won a couple of corners before creating an opportunity where she beat two defenders and had a chance to score the opening goal, but Georgia Irving in goal for Whitehaven pounced on it.
This seemed to kick Whitehaven into action and they started to create a few passing combinations, one involving Kelsey Hunter, Emma Akred & Samantha Bennett, drawing players onto them from the final third back to their own third, with finally Samantha driving into space created and playing into Morgan McGrady who was getting closer and closer with her shots to break the deadlock.
The last play of the half was a dangerous attack by Allerdale, which left Allerdale striker 1v1 against the Whitehaven keeper, with both girls committed in a 50/50 ball, Georgia managed to gather it for Whitehaven, but unfortunately was caught accidentally by the striker whose knee went into the eye socket of the Whitehaven keeper, resulting in some heavy swelling and bruising after the game. The challenge was totally accidental and the Allerdale team showed great sportsmanship in checking on how she was.
Into the second half and Whitehaven came out looking more composed and created a much better volume of passing combinations, and Niamh Morgan was stoping any chances created by Allerdale. Samantha Bennett & Debutant Lauren Strong were crucial to the Whitehaven attacks, with both lasses driving out of defence to support the midfield and striker, with Samantha really to hot to handle dribbling out and Lauren showing real cleverness to play 1-2 passes to exploit space.
Eventually the pressure told and young central midfielder Morgan McGrady netted a half volley into the Allerdale goal, for her first Senior Goal. Emma Akred really came into the game now, finding good space and playing simple balls, she grew as a player in the match and looked a real handful for someone so young.
Allerdale continued to threaten on the break as Whitehaven pushed for the second, and with minutes to go, Captain Kelsey Hunter capped off a Girl of the Game performance for the Lionesses with a rocket of a shot from outside the area to settle the game 2-0 to Whitehaven.
Rob Campbell, Paul Akred & Gary Wright, coaches for the Whitehaven team said ‘We really enjoyed welcoming Allerdale tonight, lovely set of lasses who gave us a great game, and played some good stuff, we really looking forward to having some more games with them in the near future. It’s really great to see West Cumbria thriving with new Senior Ladies teams starting up and it can only be a good thing for a growing youth set up in girls football in West Cumbria and to have these team to aspire to play for. We were pleased with our players, we didn’t play to our full potential but we showed glimpses of it and most pleasing thing was how we stopped any goals going past us. It was great to see Morgan grab her first Senior goal, she is a really well liked member of the team among the players and the coaches and just gives everything and she really deserved that. Also our Captain Kelsey was magnificent and led by example both in how she played and how she conducted herself and communicated to the team, and wow what a goal!!’