The AFC Unity underdogs extended their incredible unbeaten run to five games in a row, with a nail-biting 1-1 draw at home to second-place Rotherham United’s development team.
The “red stars” conceded first from a goalmouth scramble after a corner kick, but – as is often the case – responded twenty minutes later to grab an equaliser and hold on for the draw.
“I was already telling the players at half time, but was able to reiterate it again at full time: that was the best we have played all season,” said manager Jay Baker.
“Everyone performed their best,” agreed coach Jonny Hodgson. “They were unwilling to let each other down.”
Baker credits the coaching of both Jonny Hodgson and Olivia Murray for much of the excellence of execution in AFC Unity play.
“Everything is starting to click; the players are gelling, the training is showing, and we’re finding our shape and fulfilling our potential,” said Baker. “Credit must go to the coaches I have to help implement it all.”
“It was an excellent match and both teams put in a big shift,” said Hodgson. “We were unlucky not to win, but Rotherham United had an outstanding defender.”
“The team played brilliantly, with some quality football,” added Murray. “It’s so pleasing to see every week just how much we keep improving and building together.”
Apparently, rotation of substitutes would have been more effective, had it not been for a comedic moment in which the manager’s stopwatch malfunctioned.
“It’s true, my stopwatch messed up at half time, and what with a few injuries again, I found myself making decisions at times that I felt were more rash than usual,” admitted Baker.
“But with the substitutes who don’t play much sometimes, what really shows is their character: they cheer on their teammates, then go back and train with them, bide their time, and stay hungry to play – which is exactly what you want as a manager.”
The “red stars” play United again next week, this time at Rotherham.
AFC Unity’s goal was scored by Lucy Strutt.