by Sam Tabuteau
Sarah Peck’s early strike sparked jubilant celebrations as AFC Unity held on to secure their first win of the season against the previously unbeaten Milmoor Reserves.
Unity defied expectation with a stoic defensive performance, banishing the memories of their 7-1 thumping to Milmoor on the opening day of the season. Setting up in a 5-3-2 which transitioned into a 3-5-2 when in possession, Unity were able to defend high and wide restricting their opponent’s space to play in behind. Milmoor enjoyed much of the play but were often thwarted through an admixture of aggressive pressing and tackling.
At the heart of Unity’s high pressing was deep-lying midfielder Kirsten Vizor who commanded the half-spaces with an immaculately disciplined display. Her ability to break up play and quickly distribute the ball helped Unity regain their shape and push further up the pitch.
Full-back Ruth Kennedy also provided an invaluable option on both flanks standing up her marker and restricting space whilst also showcasing superb energy to advance into the space left by Milmoor’s narrow and unstructured defensive positioning. It must be said that this option could have been more readily utilised and coach Jay Baker will likely instruct Claire Watkinson to hold the ball and drag players in-field before quickly distributing into space out wide.
Despite all of Milmoor’s dominance, it was still Unity that struck the first and only goal of the game when Peck made her way into the area before slotting the ball into the net following some neat interplay on the edge of the area. Unity struggled to carve out many more opportunities and it would be the post that came to their rescue in the closing stages of the game as Milmoor nearly snatched a point from the jaws of defeat.
Sunday’s win sees Unity move off the foot of the table for the first time this season, and they will be hoping to build on said result with a victory over Kiveton Park in the final fixture of 2019.