Bootham Ladies started 2024 with a home game against Manchester Women at St John’s University on Saturday 13 January. Both sides knew that a win would take them to the top of the FA Futsal Series North Tier 2 division as the season entered its second phase. There was a first start for academy graduate Heather Smith, as Coach Chris looked to continue the team’s winning ways.

Bootham were represented by:

Ellie Whittaker (C), Kim Samson, Heather Smith, Natasha Eustance, Jess Baker, Jessica Barnes, Nikki Brown, Rowan Treagus, Lauryn Zareba (GK), Lucy Hudson and Ruby Shaw.

1st Half

Bootham and debutant Smith got off to the dream start when she seized on a poor back pass from Manchester and smashed home with her first touch of the ball after only 8 seconds. The lead didn’t last long when Manchester scored from a mistake in the Bootham defence, and soon after Manchester took the lead. Bootham equalised when good work from Treagus saw Eustance equalise at the back post. A good save by Zareba kept the score level when Manchester were looking dangerous. The game was end to end with but with not much end product, both teams were struggling to break down the other’s defence. Just before the break Manchester re-took the lead with a long-range finish.

Half Time: Bootham 2 – Manchester Women 3

Bootham knew the next goal would be vital in the match and after few close calls, Manchester extended their lead. They went further ahead with two quick goals to leave Bootham trailing by four. A good tackle from Treagus saw her break in midfield and a quick one two with Eustance saw her score from close range to reduce the deficit. Late on, Eustance was caught by the Manchester defender in the area, but the referee didn’t give what looked a certain penalty. Another good run from Eustance saw her long-range shot hit the outside of the post. Manchester had the last word and finished the scoring near the end.

Full Time: Bootham 3 – Manchester Women 7

A frustrated Coach Chris spoke to us after the game, he said, ‘That is not what we are about, it was a very frustrating game today. We had high hopes that we could give Manchester a close game, but we fell short. The best team won the game today, and I feel Manchester will be surprised at how easy that was, especially after this season’s previous encounters. We were let down by individual mistakes, that cost us dearly at crucial times in the game. We didn’t execute the game plan today and I felt we tried to play too quick and too long. Our game is about passing the ball, being patient, moving the opponents around and then creating good goalscoring chances, that just didn’t happen. This was the first time we had played in 6 weeks, and we looked very rusty, perhaps this is something we must look at for next time.’

When asked about debutant Smith he said, ‘I think we all dream about debuts like that, first few seconds, first touch of the ball and smashes the ball into the back of the net! I am so pleased for Heather; she has worked so hard over the last 3 years to get this opportunity and she didn’t disappoint today. She finished the game strong, and we know there is even more to come. We must remember she was only 16 a week ago, so plenty of time and we will work with her to continue her development. I think the smile at the end of the game said it all, top job!’

He finished by saying, ‘We are better than that and I am sorry for the supporters who came along and those that watched online that we didn’t deliver the performance they have come to expect from us, we must be better. We have two very hard games coming in the next two weeks and I will be looking for a response from the players. We still have the National Plate Cup competition to play for and I know the players are determined to give that their best shot. We will learn from today, train hard in the week and go again next Saturday.’

Click here to see highlights from the game

Players of The Match as picked by Match Sponsors The Preston Family – Nikki Brown and Rowan Treagus – Both players worked really hard in what was ultimately a frustrating game. Treagus and a hand in 2 of the goals, creating one and scoring the other, and Brown covered all the court and was unlucky not to score in the first half.

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