We hosted our annual Junior Members Takeover Day on Sunday when we faced Lewes in the Women’s FA Cup.
Six Junior Members were given the opportunity to go behind the scenes and take on key matchday roles.
First up was our Junior Kit Manager, Isabella who arrived early to make sure the team had perfect preparation. Isabella then headed out onto the pitch to assist our strength and conditioning coach with the team warm-up.
Our Junior Match Official, Tamar oversaw the team-sheet exchange with both sides’ captains. She then had the important job of leading the teams onto the pitch and conducting the coin toss ahead of kick off.
Junior DJ, Florence then hand-picked a playlist of songs for the team to warm up to, creating a great atmosphere for our supporters ahead of the match!
Junior Grounds-person, Annie helped our team of ground-staff get the pitch ready for kick-off. She learnt about the importance of a flat, well-drained pitch, and how the players need a good pitch to perform.
Junior Match Reporter, Emmeline watched the game from the press box, taking notes throughout the match. Post-match she interviewed both manager Joe Montemurro, and Caitlin Foord, getting their perspective on how the game unfolded.
Here’s Emmeline’s take on the game:
After having their last two home matches postponed, Arsenal were back at Meadow Park for their FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Lewes. There were many changes in the starting line-up for Arsenal, with two academy players starting, however this did not come as much of a surprise, with the Continental Tyres Cup Final against Chelsea next weekend. A debut for Caitlin Foord gave the gooners hope for an exciting 90 minutes on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon.
When the whistle blew, Arsenal kicked off, and it was clear their focus was to keep possession. For the first ten minutes, there was little threat from Arsenal apart from a few crosses which were just too close to Lewes keeper Sophie Harris. This soon changed in the 10th minute when Jordan Nobbs struck a shot from just inside the box that curled round the edge of the left post and went wide. For the next while, Arsenal were clearly the stronger, more technical side but Lewes solid defence held the score to a deadlock.
In the 17th minute, multiple chances broke for our new signing Caitlin Foord, with crosses and through balls being sent through to her, however she just couldn’t get to them in time before the goalkeeper came out and collected the ball. Unfortunately, this unlucky streak continued through to the 23rd minute when Jordan Nobbs crossed the ball in from the right and once again was just too far for Foord to stretch to. A few minutes later, academy player Melissa Filis took a shot from just outside the box which blazed over the bar, leaving the fans gasping, waiting for an opening in the score line. Up until the half time whistle, the game continued in the same way, leaving both the fans and the players frustrated. Even though it was clear Arsenal were the dominant side, Joe Montemurro had to change something at half time in order to get that much needed goal.
When both teams came back out on to the field, there were no changes to the team, however once the whistle was blown, Arsenal looked like a completely different side, attacking and moving into different spaces, leaving Lewes with no chance of stopping them. This determination led to 3 corners and a freekick within the first three minutes, mounding the pressure onto our opposition, but none of these opportunities led to goals. When it seemed as though Lewes had woken up and began fighting back, in the 53rd minute, Arsenal were quick on the counter attack, and Danielle Van De Donk immediately got the shot of, which was saved by the keeper who just couldn’t hold on to it. The ball landed at Caitlin Foord’s feet who scored the rebound, an important goal on her debut.
Even with one goal under their belts, Arsenal weren’t stopping there, the constant attack continued, and it was clear that the opposition’s team were becoming tired, but that didn’t stop their defence from holding us to one goal for as long as possible, although they had to commit quite a few fouls in order to stop this. In the 65th minute, two changes were made for the reds, with both academy players, Melissa Filis and Ruby Grant, who had strong games, were brought off for the WSL’s top scorer Vivianne Miedema and Scottish International Lisa Evans.
With these changes being made, it was now a full senior team on the pitch for the gunners, giving these players much-needed minutes ahead of the cup final next weekend. Consequently, Arsenal became even more controlled than before pushing almost the entire Lewes team back into their own half, with a cross being fired in every minute or so. Because of this, two changes were made for our opponents with Winchester off for King and Jones for Lane, hoping that the fresh legs would do the trick. However, this wasn’t the case when Vivianne Miedema put in an unstoppable cross for a stretching Danielle Van De Donk, who made it 2-0 in the 83rd minute making it almost impossible for the opposition to make a comeback. These chances didn’t stop, but with Lewes determined not to concede another goal, the full-time whistle blew, with the score line at 2-0 in front of a crowd of 1663, putting the gunners through to the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
Whilst speaking to manager Joe Montemurro at the end of the match and asking how the match went, he answered: “I think we controlled it and it wasn’t a problem but we just had to wait for our opportunity and the opportunity opened up” then when asked about how Caitlin Foord had fitted in to Arsenal’s style of play his reply was “I think she’ll take a little bit more time, obviously she’s taken a step up into another level and we were happy to give her the 90 minutes today and I think it really showed her qualities."
Then when interviewing Caitlin Foord on her debut and asked what influenced her decision on coming to Arsenal she said: “I think it was something that I was looking to do in the future and I didn’t know when it was but it just came around at the right time and I had conversations with Joe and it just planned at that now was the right time and I feel like it’s a good fit”. After being asked how it felt to play today and to get a goal on her debut she answered “I was really excited to just get out on the field to play with the girls and to get a goal is always a bonus but I think the main focus was to get the win and we did."
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