Guernsey v England – First ever Woman’s Walking Football International 1/11/19
This historic match was played in dreadful weather conditions, but with a superb spirit being shown by both sides.
Unfortunately, due to days of torrential rain, the original venue, the Track, home of Belleview Wanderers, was declared unplayable as a result of being waterlogged on Thursday. The committee in Guernsey worked a minor miracle and managed to switch the game and all the associated arrangements to the 3G at KGV.
The match was streamed live and encouraging numbers have watched it so far. Commentary was added courtesy of Brandi Mitchell, our guest from USA women’s Soccer, San Diego. Following an enthusiastic rendition of the National Anthem, which had been practiced on the coach journey to the game, the match kicked off.
England started very quickly and within the first few minutes Kelly O’Donnell opened the scoring with a crisp shot across the keeper from close range. England were passing the ball around very well with good movement creating several more chances. However, they were thwarted on numerous occasions by Emma Queripel, in goal for Guernsey. Tracey Dudwell, Dee Reade and O’Donnell all had excellent shots well saved. Dudwell was holding the ball up well and creating chances for others and Reade was pulling the strings in the midfield area and Captain Lorraine Robinson mopped up everything at the back. Lydia Bleasdale played a lone role up front for Guernsey and was very lively without really being given any chances by the mean England defense. England made constant changes to enable all players to get equal grass time. This did not affect the shape or flow of the England team as they continued to pass the ball well and make chances. Mandy Walsh and Anne Fuller both had shots well saved and the pattern of the game with England probing and Guernsey defending superbly.
In the second half, it was pretty much more of the same. Ali Wayley controlling things at the back with Helen Graham creating chances for O’Donnell. The impressive Queripel, in the Guernsey goal, was proving a frustrating brick wall until O’Donnell scored her second with a fierce shot to give England some breathing space. However, this spurred Guernsey into action and Lydia Bleasdale found a way through on the England goal to give Amanda Thompson, whose distribution was excellent all game, her first real test. She made an excellent first save but the ball span over her and was heading in until she scrambled back to hook the ball away before it crossed the line. In the final 10 minutes, Dudwell went in goal for England and she had to make a fine double save from Bleasdale. O’Donnell thought she had completed her hat-trick but it was disallowed for running.
The final whistle brought the historic match to a close – well refereed by Paul Carr and Andy Bisson. Well contested in dreadful conditions by both teams. It was a match enjoyed by the enthusiastic crowd and an occasion which will be remembered for the rest of their lives by all involved. The main aim of matches such as this are to raise the profile of the game – we hope that many people enjoyed watching it and that, as a result, many more will take up the sport. Those of us who are involved know all about the health and well-being benefits it brings. The players from both England and Guernsey are all excellent role models and they know how important it is to send out the right messages in order to get more people involved at grass roots level.
Huge thanks to all the Guernsey people for organsing and running a very successful weekend.
If you didn’t get to see the live stream you can watch it here on YouTube