It was away day blues yet again for The Lady Saints as they were on the end of another disappointing result, having travelled to Etwall for the reverse league fixture against Burton Albion Ladies FC.
Having defeated the same team 7-1 at home back in October, although it is never as simple as that, supporters could have been forgiven for thinking three points were a certainty. But in recent weeks Andy WIlliams’ team has struggled and so it was again on a humid afternoon of more footballing woe.
Burton Albion got off to the perfect start with a goal inside the first two minutes, a long ball over the top and a right wing cross easily turned in at the far post. Slow starts are a worrying theme of present, something Andy was quick to point out afterwards.
TNS were second best all over the park and the sluggish start could have quickly become two, or even three nil, only for better finishing. In response, Kim Bebbington will wonder how she didn’t score an equaliser; with an Emily Ridge shot parried Kim had an open goal yet somehow failed to connect properly from six yards as she shot agonisingly wide.
Burton made it 2-0 after 25 minutes; Charlotte Canlett unusually conceding midfield possession, the pacey centre forward raced through punishing the error with aplomb. At this point it appeared that a long afternoon was in store, but credit to The Lady Saints as they steadily got a foothold in the game, responding with real spirit.
First, Emily Ridge set up Bebbington for a neat left foot finish reducing the arrears, then Ridge tapped in from a yard on 40 minutes when Bebbington saw her shot turned away by the keeper. Buoyed by coming from two behind to go into the interval all-square the second-half was set up nicely.
However, the expected second-half momentum and onslaught did not appear. Within three minutes of the start Burton were back in front with their first attack. Another long ball saw the centre forward race into the channel before bearing down on goal and slotting past the helpless Garnham.
Burton retained the upper hand for long periods and could have extended their lead when Garnham turned a shot onto the foot of the post. TNS’ responses were restricted to efforts from distance or snap shots that were well blocked. Sarah Jackson went closest, with a shot past the far post before Laura Morris hit the top of the crossbar late on with a cross/shot.
Andy Williams was left frustrated following another disappointing afternoon: Football can be a cruel game at times, but you have to take the lows along with the highs. At the moment things are just not clicking not matter what we try.
The girls continue to work hard but there can be no denying teams have worked us out and we don’t have a different set of answers. I know the the responsibility rests with me to turn this poor run of form around, but it requires us all to stick together and dig it out.
If we were punching above our weight during the first half of the season, then we are definitely punching below it now – the reality is somewhere in the middle.
My frustration comes because at times this season we have proven just how good we are; we know it will turn if we stay focused.”