St. John edge women’s football friendly

Photos: Arran Bowen-la Grange

Photos: Arran Bowen-la Grange


York St. John women’s football team proved just a little too strong for their neighbours in a leisurely Astroturf friendly on Sunday afternoon. Goals late in each half split the teams, though, in sizzling and testing temperatures, York drew many positives, particularly from their vastly superior passing movement.

Rolling substitutes were an imperative in the heat, but York’s frequent exchanges came possibly at the expense of any team cohesion. Nevertheless, they started attractively, sweeping the ball around in the confines of the small synthetic pitch and exploiting the flanks to ask questions of the two-man St. John defence.

Gaby Stewart’s unfaltering workrate is adaptable to any surface and she enjoyed the first genuine opportunity of an uninspiring first-half, after a blur of accurate passes had unlocked the St. John defence. This happened often, but York found themselves trailing at the break: the St. John number nine, an ox of a forward who had ploughed a lone furrow until this point, linked with her midfield, shimmied with unexpected grace past two defenders and slotted home.

Womens Football 1sts vs. York St. John, 31/05/09, Photo: Arran Bowen-la Grange

A handful of substitutions at half-time revitalised York: Miriam Swaffield, their blonde ball of fun, taking the rolling aspect literally as she quitted the field. Becky Segal added a bit of steel to the backline and, in addition to repelling St. John’s long-balls with Carey Kalym, she initiated a number of attacks down the right. Captain Jennie England, solid throughout, deserved a goal after fine build-up, but fizzed her shot across goal and beyond the reach of Swaffield at the far post.

After jinxing from right to left, Stewart worked sufficient space for a snapshot, but found only the side netting, before England skewed her best chance over the crossbar with time ebbing away. A single-goal defeat would have been harsh in the circumstances – St. John had created very little in the second-half – but worse was to follow. A nifty counter-attack in the final minute brought a second, the finish crisp beyond Annalie Schutz in goal.

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