A first defeat for the young Arsenal Ladies development team. As people say: you always learn more from the defeats than the wins.
The team was even younger as usual as three of the 5 senior players (born in 96) were either in Japan with the first team or injured. That left team captain Fran Steele as the main senior players playing alongside mainly 17 years old girls.
The starting 11 had players shuffled grom their previous game positions :
Morgan, Slater Steelle Harbour-Brown Cowley, Kiely Hassall Stojko-Down, Mills Kelly Clarke . The sub used was Fatuga and unused was Augustus.
I have to say I would have preferred to see Fran in midfield and Kelsey at center back.
So what are the factors explaining the defeat ?
First the team was not compact enough defensively. There was too much space between the differents lines. There was also a problem in midfield where the 3 players did not seem to cover each other as expected.
Then the opposition imposed a physical game with a lenient referee, the girls did not manage to adapt the opposition + referee style. To counter this kind of play there are two ways. Respond with your own physicality and escalate the fight for the ball or simply outpass the opposition. Well nothing like this happened or only by sequences.
The 3 goals were quality shots by Stojko-Down and Kelly and there were at time some great pass and move. But I find disappointing that none of the players used the diagonal ball to the opposite winger to stretch Millwall defense and create space for players to run at.
Overall, the defending under pressure was not the greatest especially on set pieces. The girls do not concede 4 goals very often in the reserves. But it was an overall team defending problem.
And finally finishing was ok but there were at least 4 clear chances that could have ended in the back of the net
So it will be a good lessons and things to learn to take into 2015. This young team can do the double like the previous generation did. Although last year’s team had a lot of 3rd and 4th year reserves player early in the season.
So far the 2014/15 has been good and that defeat is surely a simple accident on the road to success and a good lesson in term of players individual development. After all the aim is not only to win game but to prepare the girls for the 1st team and the gap between 1st team and reserves is huge.
I have no doubt a couple of girls will step up to the 1st team in the neat future joining Vyan and Carla.