Photo courtesy of Inquire Media
Kent Women’s Football beat Christ Church 2-1 in a tight and competitive match that was in the balance all the way to the end to end a 9-year losing streak in Varsity. CCCU made them work very hard to end that unwanted record, with a combination of a spirited performance and individual skill getting them over the line.
UKC started the match the better of the two sides and controlled possession, forcing CCCU back into a low block and being reduced to infrequent forays forward on the counter but in spite of this they did not make in easy for Kent, who struggled to truly open them up in the early stages.
It was actually with the first real chance of the game that got Kent off to a start they could only have dreamed of before the match. After one corner came to nothing and was cleared out for a second corner, Kent thought quickly and switched up their tactics. The ball was played short to the corner of the box where it was quickly whipped to the back post and flew straight into the top corner of the Christ Church goal before the keeper could move after just thirteen minutes. Kent were in dreamland.
Their jubilation was not to last long, however, as Tucker skipped down the right-wing and into the box, before a poorly timed tackle from Sophie Strotton brought her to the ground and the referee had no other choice but to point to the spot. Woolaway stepped up for Christ Church and slotted it into the bottom left corner, beyond the dive of Jess Gray. 1-1.
The rest of the half was played out in fits and starts as both defences made things very difficult for one another. UKC on balance had the better opportunities, with a free kick that eluded everyone in the box being unable to be turned home as it was sent straight at the keeper and Parisa flicking Cheryl Lopes in behind, but she just failed to connect as the Christ Church keeper rushed out to sweep up. The best CCCU moment was when their striker, Lynch, made a great run beyond several Kent defenders before being firmly brought to the ground with a well-timed tackle, which saw the game briefly delayed so she could be seen to.
The second half started in a similar vein as neither side could really create any chances with consistency, but after 62 minutes Kent once again struck out of the blue. The ball worked itself across the box before it fell to Abbie Rex, who carved out a yard of space before curling the ball deliciously, high into the roof of net beyond the despairing dive of the Christ Church keeper to send UKC back into the lead.
From here on in Kent adopted a siege mentality, stood like Gandalf screaming “you shall not pass.” Christ Church piled on the pressure and did their best to break down a resilient UKC and thought they did after 70 minutes as a goal mouth scramble from a corner was bundled into the back of the net, sending the travelling Christ Church supporters into raptures. But all that was brought to a swift half as they noticed the linesman’s flag, who had been a thorn in their side all day long, as Gray had been impeded in the build-up.
Four minutes later it was the Kent keeper at the centre of the drama once again as a shot came at great pace from the penalty spot seeming destined to ripple the back of the net, but Jess Gray put out a forceful hand and sent the ball spiralling over the bar and out for a corner, a truly magical save that none of the onlookers could believe. This seemed to deflate Christ Church, as going into the latter stages they seemed to tail off and Kent gained a greater foothold in the game.
In the dying embers of the game, Julia Audinet flashed across goal testing the CCCU keeper after getting in down the left. Then a free kick was sent deep to the back post and dropped tantalisingly in the box and narrowly avoided a group of Kent players at the back post.
Kent successfully ran down the clock and prevented Christ Church from fashioning any late chances as they completed a remarkable 2-1 victory. It has been 9 long years of waiting for a Varsity win in this fixture, but it was more than worth it as Kent celebrated wildly on the field, drinking in their victory in front of a distraught Christ Church team, adding a further 3 points on to Team Kent’s Varsity tally.