The Ladies 1st XI have had a very busy summer and are looking forward to their first League matches...
We finished 2016/17 one place from being promoted into South Div 2 - a little frustrating, but it has been a very good season. We went into the last few games in the knowledge that Alice Lane, our player coach, would not be able to stay with us for the new season as her husband’s work was forcing a relocation to Wiltshire.
So, we needed to embark on the search for a new coach. Alice was keen to ensure we recruited the right person and she, Libby and Andrew set to in the hunt for a new coach. We had a number of very good candidates applying for Men's and Ladies' roles in the club and the club was very pleased to sign Seamus 'Shay' O'Connell for the Ladies 1s and thrilled to welcome him into the fold in July. Shay wanted to hit the road running and we had a series of open training sessions and as of the beginning of August training commenced in earnest.
Initially we had a large squad which over the period of August scaled back to a training squad of 23. Five new players to the club joined the squad together with five more juniors from within our under 16/18 squads. A real competitive spirit was forthcoming as this group of 23 was to split down again to a team of 16 and Shay made it clear that no place was guaranteed.
On the 19 August we had our first pre season friendly verses Marlow. This was quite a challenge for our first game, being in the middle of the peak holiday period. We had a very young team, with players that had never played at this level before and indeed the whole team had not played together competitively. On top of that Shay was away on international duty taking England to become the Masters European Champions!!
We blew the cobwebs away and people got to know each other, we adopted a new formation and had a good first game. The result was a 3-2 loss but a very encouraging start. Our second game was two days later back at Broadwater under the floodlights against Woking. It felt as if BT Sport was in town, both teams were having the game filmed for training – just missing Simon Mason for the commentary! This game was the first for Shay to try differing combinations of players and we achieved a 1-1 draw.
The Ladies third pre-season game was over the bank holiday weekend and the final team was beginning to take shape against London Wayfarers. Our trainnig was starting to show results and this game we won 3-0
September was now upon us and we welcomed Epsom 1st XI on GHc Club Day in what was one of our biggest crowds ever. We played a very attacking game and the mixture of experience from the more senior players compbined with the energy reserves of the younger ones meant we were dominant throughout and won the game 2-0
The 9th of September saw our toughest test to date: a double header with Reading and Maidenhead. The first choice team was nearly in place with only a few questions remaining. The first game v Reading was played at a hi tempo, we scored within the first minute and then tested out different scenarios. We were able to dominate and came out winners, managing to defend the opening minute goal for the whole game.
We went straight into our second game against Maidenhead who, not having yet played, were fresher. The game went from one end to teh other, but we took the lead through a mistake by their keeper. We again played differing scenarios, with differing presses, various short corner routines etc. This game finished 4-3 i nour favour.
So, finally last Saturday we came to our seventh and final warm-up game. We welcomed Eastcote who play in a parallel league to ourselves, so a good barometer, and we had most of our selected first team with a couple of absentees. The teams agreed to play three 30 minute thirds.
We started the first 3rd quite slowly but settled in and had most of the possession and spent most of the time in Eascote’s half. We took the lead towards the end of the half. The second third we dominated the game and scored 3 more goals from open play and short corners. Inevitably the final third was going to be down to fitness and the ability to manage ourselves when tired. We proved to be the stronger and scored 2 more goals amking the final score 6-0.
This rounded off our pre-season programme which has set us well for the start of the season. In addition to the team we have a strong training squad which includes those who play in the Ladies 2s and train once a week on a Monday as part of the wider squad.
It has not all been work either, after our double header in Reading we returned to Guildford for a night out which was great fun enjoying a meal at Zizzi’s followed by cocktails at GHC Partner and our team sponsor, The Harbour Hotel.
There is a fantastic team spirit and solid attendance at both training sessions each week; we are all really looking forward to the season.
Saturday 23 September is our first league game against Teddington. Pushback is at 1.30pm - come down and watch the team in action!