There's not too much to say about French School Meadows. I've been there twice before, the last time just a couple of months back, the day after my Dad passed away (One For Dad). However, it was the first time I have visited the ground for an afternoon kick-off and, consequently, the first time I had seen the telescopic floodlights in their lowered position.
As stated in the weekly Division 1 North Blog (Make A D1N Edition 12), this was the second meeting between the division's top two clubs in the space of two weeks. At Milton Heights the day after Bonfire Night, the sides fought out a 2-2 draw. Penn took the lead twice, first through Sasha Smith and then through henna Hussain, only to be pegged back both times through goals from Holly Porter and Katie Miller. With 42 goals between the two sides already this season, it looked as if both defences were in for a tough afternoon.
All the statistics pointed towards a great contest and, as it turned out, that is exactly what we were treated to.
We were only a minute into the game when the first chance came the way of the home side. Ellie Ludgate-Williams chased down what looked like a lost cause, robbed United captain Katie Miller and shot narrowly wide. A definite sign of intent from Penn. Five minutes alter, with Milton struggling to get to grips with Penn's quick start, Sasha Smith burst free on the right. her cross was latched onto by Henna Hussain, but the number 10 couldn't quite keep her shot down. However, only a minute after that Penn's early pressure paid off when Sasha Smith punished a mistake at the back and slotted the ball home. 1-0
Milton, with Katie Miller playing exceptionally deep to counter the threat of Penn's pace up front, had not got started and were being pushed back constantly by a rampant home team. After 13 minutes Smith's pace once again unsettled the visitors. She pushed the ball past her marker, oustripping the defence before crashing a shot past Taylor and against the bar.
Credit to Milton though, they were digging in and on the quester hour mark showed the first sign that they were beginning to get to grips with the game when a through ball almost put Charlotte Comley in on goal before it was cut out at full stretch by a defender. Then with 19 minutes on the clock, Comley's persistence down the right won the ball deep in Penn territory. The cross flew across the edge of the box and was met by Holly Porter only for it to cannon off a Penn player to safety. Brave defending to get in the way of a stinging drive. Two minute slater and with the game now in full flow. Mollie Dyer went on a great run before forcing a good save from Rebecca Tobin. United, after riding out the storm, were now back in the game even if they were still trailing.
Just before the half-hour mark Henna Hussain demonstrated her power, brushing off a couple of challenges before unleashing a shot that Vanessa Taylor did realy well to save. Straight up the other end, Mollie Dyer once again tested Tobin with a dipping drive that the stopper had to block with her feet. Unfortunately for Milton, no-one was ale to get onto the loose ball. The visitors then had a penalty shout but, in all honesty, it came more from the bench and was never going to be given.
As we headed for half-time, Milton again went in search of a goal. Four minutes remained to the break when Comley did well down the left before cutting back onto her right foot and delivering an inch-perfect cross for Natalie Evans to meet. Her header beat Tobin but hit the bar and droppped inside the six yard bos where Evans was first to react, stabbing the ball over the line for a deserved equaliser. 1-1
HT Penn & Tylers Green 1 Milton United 1. A blistering start from Penn who threatened to run away wiht it in the early stages. Milton had to really stand firm to stem the flow before playing their way back into the game and deservedly going in level at the break.
The visitors did not let their heads drop however. They took the game to their hosts and, on the hour mark, were rewarded with a penalty decision for which the home side had no complaints. Georgia Winger stepped up and beat Tobin from 12 yards. 2-2. That goal provided a springboard for Milton and within four minutes they were in front for the first time. Superb vision from Mollie Dyer to pick out the run of Charlotte Comley. United's top scorer let the ball bounce once before hammering a left-foot drive past Tobin. 2-3
Now it was Penn's turn to have to dig deep. They responded as you would expect. Six minutes after going behind Henna Hussain produced a killer through ball to set Ellie-Ludgate Williams in on goal. Her thunderous strike gave Taylor no chance. 3-3.
In keeping with the game, Penn then almost immediately grabbed a fourth when Smith's pace once again sae her break free but this time Vanessa Taylor stood firm and saved well. To be honest, as a neutral, it would have been harsh on either team to lose it late on. A draw was a fair result.
FT Penn & Tylers Green 3 Milton United 3. Absolutely top notch entertainment. I can only say thank you to both teams. Two very good sides, very evenly matched, who gave it everything. Both teams looked out on their feet at the final whistle.
Next weekend Milton travel to Mapeldurham Recreation Ground to take on a Caversham United team hurting after a 6-1 home defeat to Long Crendon. Penn & Tylers Green are also heading to Reading as they face the division's form side Woodley United who made it three on the bounce as they beat Eversley & California 2-0.
Penn & Tylers Green: Tobin, Harnby(c), Hussey-Bird, Mackay, McCrae, Smith, Ludgate-Williams, O'Grady, Lloyd, Hussain, Wincoll. Subs: Pollicott, Flint, Panaylotou, Hyde
Milton Unted: V.Taylor, R.Taylor, Miller(c), Phillips, Loveridge, Barnes, Evans, Porter, Winger, Dyer, Comley. Subs: Welch, Morton, Simons, Saunders
Ground Number: Re-Visit