After being awarded the last two games and other recent results, we could go into this game knowing that if we were to bring home a point or more we would finish the season as runners up.
With a large number of players unavailable for this game, we could only travel with 12 players and two of those have been really struggling with injury lately and another who has been ill all week. So a big thank you to them for not only travelling but for also putting so much effort in.
We decided on a 4-1-4-1 formation, one we have used before, with Jenna sitting in front of the defence with a free role and Emily Johnson working alone up front. Carmen Evril Giles also came in for the start at left back as Dita Upesjure had been struggling all week.
It was a fairly even first quarter of an hour, we were probing along the wings and Cambridge Utd were dangerous from corners. This was a feature of our day and we struggled to defend the corners, especially in the first half.
We were to make the breakthrough on 14 minutes though. Pushing forward through the middle, Jenna Nairn found Megan Stickland. Meg controlled, came inside and curled a short from the edge of the box into the top corner of the Cambridge net, superb goal, unstoppable. 1-0 Netherton.
Cambridge hit back quickly, on 17 minutes a deep corner was sent in and one of the opposition got clear of her marker and headed in. 1-1.
On 20 minutes, the big talking point of the game and a massive boost for us as a Cambridge defender handled on the line and the referee not only awarded a penalty but also produced the red card.
Megan Parrett had the responsibility for the penalty and after being told to retake her original goal she stepped up confidently and slotted in again despite the excellent dive from the Cambridge keeper. 2-1 Netherton.
27 minutes and Cambridge were to equalise again. It was to be another dangerous corner and going up for the ball to clear, Megan Stickland could do nothing more than steer the ball to our own goal, would have been a great header at the other end! 2-2.
Half Time 2-2
So a good first half, it was going to plan and we were half way there to the point we needed. A change of formation to 4-4-2 to give Emily Johnson support up front meant Natalie Gaches was moved into the attack, an unfamiliar position for her.
We now had the wind behind us and we felt that our pace up front and on the wings would give us the advantage. We started to control the game more and more and it was no surprise when on 53 minutes we were to go ahead for the 3rd time. A flowing move across the pitch found Georgina Parrett wide on the right and she played in a fantastic low cross into the box that took the Cambridge defenders out of the game and Natalie Gaches was there to steer the ball home from close range. A lovely team goal. 3-2 Netherton.
In truth, it was a good second half of football with both teams showing attacking intent. We were able to weather any attack that Cambridge sent our way and Katie Cooper looked confident in goal all day. No more goals for the afternoon.
Full Time 3-2
Steve and Andy saw so many good things from our team today. EVERY player dug deep today knowing we had very few options for change. The performance was professional, with strong defending and skill on show all over the field, this was a brilliant ending to a brilliant season.
When we started out in September, we would never have known how far we would come as a squad. Some great signings have increased the quality all over the pitch and we know that whoever is selected, they will put in a shift for Netherton. With additional players already coming in for next season, there is no reason why we can't see ourselves challenging again next season.
We wish good luck to Cambridge United Reserves as they move up a level, we are proud to finish second to a quality side like them.