Before a ball has been kicked in the league, yesterday saw many grassroots clubs begin their season with an FA Cup tie. During my season coaching with Winchester Flyers, I found it frustrating that before we had the opportunity to build form and momentum we had one of the biggest games of the season to contend with.
I made my way through the crowds of a classic car show to make my way into Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium, their visitors today were Moneyfields. The pair last met in the final league game of last season which saw Moneyfields win 7-1.
Both sides had a full bench and strong squads to choose from. Captaining the home side was centre midfielder, Nicola Beeton. The visitors welcomed Carla Perkins, Beth Burgess, Emma Eldridge, Nicole Matthews, Britt Jeal, Zoe Hughes and Krystal Whyte who all made their competative debuts.
The sun was shining, the pitch looked fantastic. Those tucking into their roast dinners in the club house behind the goal would have a great view of all the action that was about to begin.
Much of the early exchanges occurred in the Eastleigh half as Moneyfields pressed high up the pitch in the hope of forcing an error. The likes of Aliss Wheeler coped well and she sought to combine with Catherine Browning to exploit and space behind the Moneyfields defence but to no avail.
It was Moneyfields’ manager, Karl Walton, that had his head in his hands when former Southampton Saints player Krystal Whyte hit her shot just wide.
After about 30 minutes it was first blood to the visiting side when central defender Sophie Kinglsey-Cabell rose to head in a Kim Whitcombe corner. While I had been impressed with Eastleigh so far, I felt that the goal had been coming.
Browning looked dangerous for Eastleigh and will have been frustrated not to have levelled the game, while at the other end, Lauren Medhurst made some good saves meaning that there was just the single goal in it at half time.
Six minutes into the second half, Beth Burgess catches a glimpse of Medhurst off her line and chips the ball over the stranded keeper from about twenty yards out. A superb finish from the former Reading midfielder. It was probably a bit harsh on Medhurst, who for me was one of Eastleigh’s most impressive performers on the day and that was despite having to contend with a bought of illness.
After the goal, the game fell a bit flat. Moneyfields, with one foot in the next round were content to keep their opponents at bay while Eastleigh were cautious not to let Moneyfields get a third. That gamble paid off and as the game entered the final the closing stages Wheeler put Browning through and the striker finished well passed Sally Anne Thompson.
Buoyed by the goal and with momentum swinging in their direction, Eastleigh pushed for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be. They bowed out of the cup while Moneyfields reward is a trip to Somerset and Ilminster Town in the next round.
Eastleigh: Lauren Medhurst, Lauren Hill, Nicola Curtis, Nicola Beeton, Kaylee Senter, Kathryn Littleboy, Natasha Konczak, Chelsea Bates, Sam Hide, Catherine Browning, Aliss Wheeler
Subs: Keeley Fitzgerald, Zoe Renshaw, Rowan Hawkins, Megan Cave, Lauren Young, Jemma Jarvis
Moneyfields: Sally Anne Thompson, Melissa Lawrence, Kaylee Schuman-Edwards, Sophie Kingsley-Cabell, Emma Eldridge, Carla Perkins, Britt Jeal, Nicole Matthews, Beth Burgess, Krystal Whyte, Kim Whitcombe
Subs: Zoe Paris, Zoe Hughes-Jones, Sian Bradbeer, Kira Vallely, Paige Seeley, Sherri Bell-Jack