Portlaoise Under-13 Girls got their season underway in what was a thriller at Rossleighan Park over the weekend.
Portlaoise AFC 3
Real FA Swans 4
MSL Girls U-13
This was the first time that both teams fielded 11 players and played a full size pitch and the pace of the game was relentless.
In the early exchanges both teams had goal chances however it was the Swans who took the lead with a lovely goal that went into the roof of the net from outside the six yard box and goalkeeper Eire Delaney couldn’t do anything about it.
As the game went on Portlaoise had several chances to equalise – and despite having most of the possession in the first half and over a half a dozen corners, Portlaoise could not capitalise.
The Swans went two nil up against the run on of play with a nice show of football, passing well and creating a shooting chance that was taken well.
In response, Portlaoise made a tactical change moving Ada Byrne into holding midfield and Divine Samuel into centre-forward and almost immediately the move paid off.
A through ball from Portlaoise Centre Back Ava Coleman that penetrated the Swans defence and perfectly weighted for the oncoming Divine Samuel to bury into the bottom corner to grab a goal back just before half-time.
Dominating the possession, Portlaoise created the majority of the chances but yet again, against the run of play and as a result of some small defensive errors the Swans got a great goal further stretching the lead to 3-1 putting the Portlaoise girls really under pressure.
The girls showed a never give up attitude that stood to them as they continued to press and play football. Woman of the Match, Ashlee Buchanan, continued to drive forward on the right wing creating chance after chance.
A tactical switch in the second half saw the then left-back Zanab move to centre-forward and Aoda Graham to take the slot at the left of defence. Aoda took up where Zanab left off making some superb defensive tackles and clearances.
Another spectacular through ball, this time by Sophie Cullinan, put the first time striker Zanab through and with the speed, strength and composure of a pro she buried the ball into the back of the net taking Portlaoise to within one goal of the lead.
Portlaoise dug in and really took the game to the Swans who were a little rattled at this stage – again brilliant determination from Ashely gave her a chance to pop the ball into a packed box and it fell to Sophie Cullinan who sweetly stroked it passed the Swans keeper to draw the match with seconds left on the clock.
With the match all but done, the unthinkable happened, the Swans broke from tip off and their striker went down outside the box after a hard tackle.
Expecting the referee to give a free kick, the referee instead played advantage and the unthinkable happened as a Swans midfielder struck the sweetest shot that no keeper would stop, winning the game for them 4-3.