BATTLING OLDLAND BAG FIRST POINT OF SEASON WITH IMPROVED DISPLAY
By Steve Lavis
Oldland were far from their best but showed a definite improvement from last week's home drubbing against Portishead. A draw was probably a fair result against last season's Gloucestershire County League Champions,St.Nicks Reserves.
Oldland dispensed with last week's wing back formation in favour of a more traditional 4-4-2 which meant Georgina Bragg moving to left back and Laura Elphick moving to a more advanced role on the right wing. Laura Garlick,Sam Morgan and Courtney Hobbs completed the defence with Beth Dale,Vicky Mundy and Emma Raikes-May competing the midfield quartet with Elphick whilst Romany Cochrane and Amy Street continued their blossoming partnership up front.
The game started at a decent pace with Oldland seeing plenty of the ball without really threatening the opposition goal whilst St.Nicks were more incisive with their attacks and kept Oldlands back line and keeper Jayde Holcombe on their toes.
As the the first half ticked on, the away team were starting to get hold of the game and the Abbots had a let off after 15 minutes when the opposition struck the post with a well directed near post effort.
If anyone was looking likely to score it was the away team but with 8 minutes to go to half time an exquisite through ball from Dale found speedy sub Lydiya Myckalechko-making her first appearance in a year after working away-and she sped away down the left wing before neatly slotting past the away keeper.
With dangerous St.Nicks striker Libby Bell sending a lob narrowly wide when she only had Holcombe to beat it was apparent that Oldland had led a charmed life in the first half.
The second half started in a completely different manner however as a pumped up Oldland started much quicker than their opponents. With the midfield winning much more ball and the communication improved throughout the team, Oldland forced a succession of corners which saw captain Vicky Mundy have two headers cleared off of the line from two separate Dale corners.
With Street also bursting into the box with a one on one with the keeper Oldland were primed to take a two goal lead but she could only fire straight at the keeper.
It was against the run of play on 67 minutes when St.Nicks equalised with a lob that striker Bell probably deserved for her tireless performance. This seemed to rattle Oldland a little and the away team suddenly looked a little more of a dangerous proposition although it was pretty much an end to end affair. Cochrane went close on several occasions for Oldland and it took a couple of good saves from the away keeper to keep her off of the scoresheet whilst at the other end Holcombe kept up her good form to keep out St.Nicks with two good stops.
With several players back after holidays now the squad will strengthen and results will be expected to improve as Oldland look to build on a difficult start to the season.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH---Beth Dale---Switched from her customary position out wide after half an hour into a more central role which paid dividends with an assist and a supply of probing balls for the strikers to cap an energetic display.