Belles start 2023 on a high

The Belles were straight into the action with their first tournament of the year on Saturday 7th January. It was the first-ever women’s rec tournament hosted by Athenlay at their home ground in Peckham and an opportunity for the Belles to play some different teams.

We took a squad of 9 players, the format was 5 a side, 8 teams taking part in total,divided into two groups of four teams.

The weather was grim, Athenlay had attempted to put some gazebos up the night before to provide some shelter from the inevitable rain, sadly they were blown away.

The Belles’ first opponents were local Peckham Rye-based “Rye or Die” After a slightly tentative start they scored but the Belles equalised in the second half with a beautiful strike from Holly, Luce scoring the majestic second. Despite pressure from the opposition Jo, Fran and Barbara were resolute in defence and Verity made a fantastic fingertip save to maintain the lead. Final score 2-1 to the Belles.

In the second game, we met “BabeCity FC” who our scouts had identified as the biggest danger in the group. They quickly went 2-0 with some good passing moves and were then awarded a questionable penalty for handball (No VAR available). A well-taken penalty took them 3-0 up. The Belles got 1 back through a great strike by Nikey 3-1. BabeCity got another on the counter to make it 4-1 and the Belles got a second Luce pouncing on a rebound to ruthlessly slot home. Jo may have decided this would be her last ever appearance in goal.

The final game of the group was against Athenlay 1 (the home side) so our away fans (all 4 of them) plus the bench had to drown out the home crowd. This was a frenetic game with two closely matched sides, the Belles, definitely on top playing some fast-flowing football. Lou scored two beauties in this game, Nikey made the scoresheet again and Luce came on as a late sub to slot the Belles 4th and claim the victory 4-3. Great work by Sal in goal and Verity Jo and Fran to keep Athenlay at bay.

We finished 2nd in our group behind “Rye or Die” (the eventual winners) putting us through to the 3rd & 4th place play-off against Athenlay 2.

With an injury to Holly, we were down to 8 players and rotated the squad with Luce starting in goal. Everything came together in this game, attack after attack causing the opposition problems, beautiful passing moves and “take no prisoners” defending. Barbara won everything in midfield. The Belles went 2-0 up with a lovely goal from Lou and a great penalty from Luce. In the second half, Fran replaced Luce in goal, Barbara made way for Luce and Nikey replaced Lou. Another 3 fantastic goals soon followed from Luce and 2 from Nikey. We were unplayable, at least one of the goals coming from a passing move involving the whole team. Tournament rules stated that if a team went 5-0 up the opposition could bring on an extra player, 6 versus 5 was no problem for the rampaging Belles, Sal covering every inch of the pitch, Fran directing play from the goal and Jo taking a crunching tackle without a murmur. Nikey scored the 6th “A beautiful & delicious goal” completing her hat trick. An emphatic 6-0 win. Amazing support from the sidelines, Barbara the most passionate cheerleader!!

Thanks to the squad, Lou, Holly, Nikey, Barbara, Luce, Verity, Fran, Sal & Jo for braving the January weather and for giving their all in a great team performance for the Belles. A special for our loyal fans, see you next time!

Written by Bromley Belle, Jo Hind

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