Barking and Dagenham girls' district suffer heavy defeat to Chelmsford

Barking & Dagenham girls district team

Barking and Dagenham girls' district team - Credit: BDSFA

The 15th incarnation of the Barking and Dagenham SFA girls’ district team were faced with the toughest of tests in their opening game of the season against a ruthless Chelmsford and Mid Essex side as they lost 4-1.

After an even first half that saw the visitors edge narrowly in front, Roding’s Aysia Matabaro equalised for the hosts before a deadly five-minute spell from Chelmsford blew away the Barking and Dagenham resistance for a deserved away win. 

As early as the fourth minute, Barking and Dagenham settled into their stride and began to utilise the attacking talent in their ranks.

Matabaro held up play well before spreading the ball wide to the right, where Elizabeth Dimitrova burst in behind the Mid Essex backline.

A return pass picked out Matabaro in the box, only for last season’s leading scorer to fire agonisingly wide.

At the other end, the home side’s backline was eventually pressured into a mistake – keeper Honey Thomas was sharply off her line to block a seemingly certain goal from point-blank range. 

Immediately though, Barking and Dagenham were up the other end as Erin Taylor and Matabaro combined before the latter again found the dangerous Dimitrova causing havoc on the wing.

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Her centre was met by Parsloes’ Hazel Walker, but her eventual attempt looped well over the crossbar to safety. 

The Matabaro and Dimitrova axis again resulted in a dangerous cross which flashed across goal, narrowly evading Bryant at the opposite post, as the creator of the move almost reaped her reward. 

A minute later, Matabaro's rasping effort from the edge of the box was too powerful for the keeper to hold, before she recovered amazingly to tip the bobbling ball off the line, against the post, and back into her arms at the last gasp. 

And with Dimitrova again prompting a smart save, it seemed only a matter of time before Barking and Dagenham took the lead. 

Unthinkably, with five minutes remaining until half-time, the opposite occurred. Where once there had been solidity and confidence, a giant hole suddenly opened up in the centre of the pitch and Chelmsford profited, firing in from the edge of the area to take a narrow lead into the interval. 

Visibly rocked, the home side clung on until the break thanks to Thomas’ incredible double save; the respite provided a welcome chance to regroup. 

Two minutes after the restart, parity was restored.

Matabaro earned just reward for her earlier endeavours, showing strength, power and persistence to fashion another opportunity inside the penalty area. This time she showed no mercy. 

At this point, the game was in the balance. Barking and Dagenham were being pushed back – but still offered plenty of menace in what proving to be an incredible game for a first outing of the season. 

However, that lack of understanding between new teammates clearly told when the away team pounced again to restore their lead.

A nothing ball behind the Barking and Dagenham defence looked to have been dealt with but hesitancy at the crucial moment was punished emphatically and Chelmsford and Mid Essex’s were back ahead. 

The goal took the stuffing out of Barking and Dagenham, who had fought back admirably but were now faced with a barrage of blows as they swayed and crashed against the ropes. 

A third and fourth followed in a matter of moments and the game was all but over.  

To their credit, the hosts rallied well. Mid Essex were cock-a-hoop and in the mood for more, but Pearl Brown and Amaya Amaning’s dogged determination prevented any further additions to the score-line, providing another plus point to the morning’s work. 

It was a harsh lesson for Barking and Dagenham, but sometimes a defeat can teach a team more than a dozen wins; something that will have to be learnt quickly, ready for the weeks to come. 

Barking & Dagenham: Amaya Amaning (Warren), Pearl Brown (Rush Green), Charlotte Bryant (Roding), Elizabeth Dimitrova (James Cambell), Zoe Freeman (Rush Green), Kadie Gibbs (James Cambell), Mia Green (Southwood), Aysia Matabaro (Roding), Chioma Musa-Onyeka (St Peter’s), Lara Sousa Franco (St Peter’s), Erin Taylor (The Leys), Honey Thomas (James Cambell), Hazel Walker (Parsloes).

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