NGFL U11 SHIELD SEMI-FINAL: Longhoughton Rangers...10 Newcastle East End...2
Longhoughton Rangers took on Newcastle East End in the semi-final of the NGFL Shield on Saturday (March 5).
East End kicked off and the ball was closed down by Barrett, who stole the ball from the defender, turned and shot, hitting the post.
From the goal-kick, brilliant marking by Rangers paid off. Brown beat the player she was marking to the ball, played Grisdale an inch-perfect pass and she slotted in Rangers’ first (1-0).
From the off, Rangers pressed the ball again. O’Neill in defence blocked the ball and played it forward to Brown. She found Grisdale who played in Barrett to score from inside the box, firing the ball low and right (2-0).
The next six minutes saw Rangers press hard, resulting in several shots from Newby, Barrett, Grisdale and Brown, all superbly saved by the East End keeper.
But the pressure told again, with Brown breaking play in the middle. She saw an opportunity and struck from outside of the box. The keeper was unsighted as the ball went through several players and she had no chance of saving it. The quarter ended 3-0 to Rangers.
Rangers’ coach then tinkered with his team, brought Brown and Barrett into defence and tried Marshall and O’Neill in attack.
Rangers kicked off and blasted straight at goal, Grisdale finding the keeper waiting for her shot.
East End broke, only to find Newby waiting to clear. East End again tried to break down the Rangers defence but Barrett this time received the ball in her own half. She stopped before the halfway line, spotted the keeper off her line and lobbed her for great goal.
East End attacked and squeezed in a shot. Lindley, always alert, parried the ball away for a corner, which pin-balled around the box before Brown launched it out of her area.
East End again had success as they tore down the wing and crossed the ball, Lindley was quick off her line to take the ball. She played it upfield, where Grisdale received it and passed to Marshall, who shot and scored her first of the season.
Rangers picked up the pace again, with O’Neill hitting the post, Grisdale shooting wide and Newby forcing yet another good save from the keeper.
The referee blew for half-time, with Rangers leading 5-0.
Marshall and Lindley swapped roles for the last two quarters. Lindley went into defence and Barrett moved forward. Jaffa Cakes eaten, the girls got back on the pitch.
East End kicked off, played the ball forward and got a shot on target.
Marshall stood firm and collected the ball. From the kick out, East End received the ball and played in their attacker who shot past a helpless Marshall (5-1).
Was the comeback on?
East End attacked again and, with swift movement and silky passing, rounded the Rangers defence but Marshall was waiting and came to collect the ball. She kicked it out to Barrett, who turned her defender, headed goalward and shot. The ball sailed in for her hat-trick (6-1).
Rangers kept up the pressure and were rewarded when Grisdale shot on target from outside the box but it was deflected past the keeper (7-1).
East End didn’t give up, they poured past the defence, crossed the ball and their attacker pounced and scored (7-2).
Lindley came close when she received the ball in the East End half, drove for goal but the ball went agonisingly wide. Once again, the referee blew to end the quarter, with Rangers leading 7-2.
The fourth quarter saw Rangers coach yet again tinker with his team. Grisdale, Newby and Lindley were in defence, with Brown, O’Neill and Barrett attacking.
Rangers kicked off, Brown passed to O’Neill who found Barrett to shoot low. The keeper parried it out for a corner. Barrett took the corner and found Grisdale at the front post. She shot but hit the post and out of play.
Rangers’ marking yet again worked well, Grisdale beating her player to the ball and driving towards goal. She shot low and beat the keeper for Grisdale’s hat-trick (8-2).
East End again attacked but Newby was sitting in waiting again, brought the ball forward after a brilliant tackle and found Barrett, who scored her fourth of the game (9-2).
The Rangers team now had new orders from the coach – O’Neill to score.
East End attacked from the restart and found their forward who shot. Marshall, ever growing in confidence in goal, saved the shot.
The ball was played to O’Neill. She got into the box, shot and hit the post.
East End again got the ball upfield, but Grisdale defended excellently, waiting for the right moment to pounce for the ball, nicked it from the forward’s feet, played it forward and Brown shot but the keeper put it out for a corner.
The ball came in from Barrett, was played out by East End to O’Neill, who shot and scored her first goal of the season (you couldn’t have written it, honest). As the game restarted, the referee blew for full-time.
East End’s player-of-the-match nominated by Rangers was their outstanding keeper. If it wasn’t for her bravery and positioning, it might have been a cricket score.
Longhoughton Rangers will now play Walbottle in the final in May.
The girls’ next match is on Saturday (March 12) against Bedlington Town Wildcats, kick-off 11am on pitch 4 at Complete Football, Gosforth Park.
Longhoughton Rangers team: Barrett (four goals and opposition’s man-of-the-match), Brown (one), Grisdale (three), Lindley, Marshall (one), Newby and O’Neill (one).
Rangers’ coach gave all the team his man-of-the-match for doing as he asked and playing different positions than normal.