AFC Unity continued their season with another win to start off the new year, again beating Greasbrough, this time 2-4, but with more difficulty than their last meeting.
“I warned about underestimating them, but I don’t think that was the case at all,” said AFC Unity manager Jay Baker. “Their lot had improved, as expected, but the conditions made everything much harder for us,” he added, referring to AFC Unity’s penchant for passing football that this time was hindered by a playing surface barely surviving recent snow, rain, and frost.
However, Baker gave credit to Greasbrough and the referee for keeping the game on.
“We just wanted to get on with our season, and Greasbrough certainly did too, since they’re stuck with a big backlog of games to get through, so major thanks to them and the referee for putting so much effort in to keeping the fixture on a day when games across the leagues were being postponed all over the place.”
Shifting up the street from Roughwood Road to Barkers Park, the official was able to utilise a pitch that he deemed playable, after some considerable inspection. Baker was determined to make the most of it.
“We knew drawing 1-1 at half-time we weren’t getting as far as we might normally because of the pitch, but for me passing football has to remain, even in tough conditions,” Baker explained, “so aside from the goalkeeper, we only made one switch, which we felt would create a better dynamic on the flanks and provide more fire-power up front.”
Three more goals would follow, while Greasbrough broke through and scored another goal themselves, following an unstoppable free kick in the first half.
But after four excellent AFC Unity goals following fantastic build-ups, and an impressive defensive display, the “red stars” came out on top.
Co-founder and regular captain Jane Watkinson watched the performance from the touchline due to an ankle injury: “While it was difficult being sidelined for the game, I also enjoyed seeing the team play from a new perspective,” she explained. “It sometimes can be difficult to take in the whole game when you’re on the pitch, and being able to watch from the side I was able to take in more fully how much effort, care, and passion every player puts in and has for the club.”
“It was a fantastic team performance in difficult conditions, and all worked really hard but also stepped up and helped each other out when needed,” Watkinson added.
Baker agrees, and feels his own players are now starting to present him with the kinds of challenges that he relishes.
“While some players certainly seemed to solidify their positions, others stepped up,” he pointed out. “And although the team really, really impressed me, it makes my role much harder because we’re developing to the stage where – especially with quality signings still being made – there are two or three options for each playing position.”
However, the manager claims that, in turn, this presents a challenge for the players themselves:
“For me, I throw that back out to the players to train harder than ever, be positive, and impress the coaches and myself to make me unable to leave them off a field for long; that’s how you get yourself game time as we play these remaining crucial games.”
AFC Unity’s goals were provided by Lucy Strutt (2), Charlotte Marshall and Shanie Griffith.