MATCH REPORT: Ilkley Town 0:0 Republica

The second game of the season saw Republica women battle against the odds to hold a 0:0 draw away to Ilkley Town with just 9 players.

Republica Internationale’s second fixture of the league saw them making the journey to Ben Rhydding to face Ilkley Town. Their hopes of building on last week’s narrow loss at Lower Hopton were looking fragile when a combination of injury, bad timing and misfortune left them with a starting team consisting of just nine players, including one recruited and signed onto the club at the 11th hour.

After boldly deciding to face the game and whatever it may bring, Republica decided to tackle their opponents with a solid, if not traditional, 4-4-0 formation. May Martin took her place in goal (bravely claiming that being 2 players down was a ‘goalkeeper’s dream’) with a defensive line of Lisa Nicholson, Cathy Brennan, Tania Aghanian and Dolores Terzonie, followed up by a front line of Kamilla Klausholm, Molly Asher, Sorrel Higgins and Lorna Gledhill.

The game started well with Republica playing a strong defensive game, with effective covering and supporting that acted to cut off attempts of attack from Ilkley before they could get started. This opened up space for Higgins to move into an attacking role, with several chances coming from long balls over the top from both Martin at the back and the midfield. However, quick clearances by the opposition goalkeeper and some unlucky offside decisions prevented any clean breaks on goal. By half time, a combination of last-ditch defending, excellent goal-keeping and a miss from the opposition in front of an open goal, left the teams drawn at 0-0.

Around the 60 minute mark, and with legs tiring, Republica were uplifted by the sight of Hilary Rees appearing on the side-lines. Arriving straight from a charity 5k run and having journeyed an hour to reach the game, Rees was straight onto the pitch, slotting into the back four and releasing Aghanian into the midfield. Rees injected some much needed energy and pace into the defensive line helping to stamp out the Ilkley attack and push the ball forward. Higgins again had several shots on target and was unlucky to not get a goal on her debut performance.  Into the last ten minutes of the game, a combination of a brave lunging challenge by Martin on a closing-in attacker and strong play by Terzonie, with both a headed clearance off the line and a block to a free-kick, kept the score line level at the close of play. 

Come the final whistle the team were elated to have, against the odds, held the game to 0-0 and picked up their first point of the season.  The player of the match award went to Molly Asher and captain, Tania Aghanian, expressed delight at the whole team’s battling performance. With a fuller squad available Republica hope to build on this performance in next week’s home fixture against Tyersal.