by Sam Tabuteau
AFC Unity return to action this Sunday as they travel to take on the unbeaten Milmoor Reserves.
Unity are still searching for their first win of the season, having drawn one and lost six of their previous seven games and they will find stern competition in the face of Milmoor Reserves. The Rotherham based club are a ruthless attacking set up, having already handed out 8-1 and 9-0 drubbings this season, and Unity are by no means strangers to their opposition’s clinical style of play. In the opening game of the season, it was Unity who found themselves on the wrong end of a high scoring encounter, when a second-half capitulation saw Milmoor eventually come away 7-1 victors.
The danger woman that day was Jessica Baker, and Unity will be more than aware of the threat she poses in and around the area. A closely contested first-half against Milmoor, in which the scoreline was finely poised at 2-0, suggests that Unity are more than capable of retaining a rigid defensive structure which focuses on defending with width and aggression to restrict space and force quick turnovers. As has been the case for much of the season Unity will likely struggle to get on the ball and play as much as they would like and it is therefore of paramount importance that the team remains compact and disciplined. This will lead to greater ball retention as more options will become available off the ball.
Injuries have plagued much of Unity’s season and the absence of top goal scorer Jo Wadsworth will only add to this further. Head Coach Jay Baker will however be encouraged by the return of Jane Watkinson, who will be playing her first league game in almost a year.
“It’s been a very difficult year for me with injuries, so it feels really great to be back in the team, and I’m hoping I can build up match fitness quickly,” says Jane. “It’s been inspiring to watch how we have played this season, and we have been unlucky not to get more points. This will be a tough game but the pressure is not on us, we just need to focus on playing the football we know we can and enjoy ourselves.”
The potential return of Alex Cherry, who apart from a few minutes against Mexborough Athletic has been out since the first game of the season, will also provide a boost to the squad as Unity have struggled for numbers over recent weeks.
Rachel Rodgers will take the armband on what is set to be her 70th appearance for the club.
Rodgers had this to say ahead of tomorrow’s game:
“We go into each game with the same mindset: play our way and don’t worry about things we can’t control.”
A win against Milmoor could potentially lift Unity off the foot of the table and the timely returns of Watkinson and Cherry could make all the difference.
16-woman squad in full:
1 Hannah Lamb
3 Jane Watkinson
5 Jaimee Reeve
6 Sarah Peck
9 Claire Watkinson
10 Stacey Leigh
11 Becky Gay
12 Emma Howe
14 Chloe Burditt
16 Lizzie Smith
17 Kirsten Vizor
18 Ruth Kennedy
25 Alex Cherry
29 Kristina Rankine
33 Lisa Gray
37 Rachel Rodgers (captain)