What do Corunna, Mons and Dunkirk have in common? All European towns? Well yes, but that is not what I am thinking about. All names feature the letter “n”? Again yes, and again not what I am thinking of.

The correct answer is they are all major retreats by the Birtish army that led to ultimate victory in their respective wars!!! We’ll go with Dunkirk for this one.
I’ll explain.

The girls took to the field on 7th December for their last outing of 2013 against a side they beat 5-1 in their previous meeting. Shannon captained the side with Amy in goal for the injured Ruby and the usual suspects in their usual positions. Chloe and Madison were ill, but we still had eight Panthers to assault the Phoenix lines.

Now for Dunkirk. Imagine German panzers rolling inexorably across Northern France, brushing aside all opposition, creating household names of men such as Rommel. Never letting the poor allies rest or recuperate from their last mauling, on they came, cutting France in half by reaching the Channel and capturing Paris within just a few short weeks. All looked lost for the allies in the west as the British clung on desperately to
a stretch of beach around the town of Dunkirk. Hold that thought…

The early exchanges were scrappy on a cold day, with Lily Hughes hurt briefly in an early 50/50 tackle and the Phoenix goalkeeper pouncing on a through ball to snuff out a promising opportunity. Lily had further chances, but the game seemed to want to descend into more the mud of Flanders than the sweeping advances of 1940. Then came the proverbial breakthrough a la Sedan, as Shannon opened the scoring after seven minutes. 1-0 to the Panthers. The panzers were finally on the loose.

Further chances came and went until Ellie Gooch made it two after 12 minutes from a Lily Hughes pass. 3-0 came came just two minutes later from Lily Hughes herself and the Phoenix were reeling like the French army of 1940. It was all Panthers at this point, sweeping like a panzer division, screaming like Stukas and storming forwards like stormtroopers to reach the proverbial Channel coast that was victory assured. 4-0 came on the 18 minute mark, again from Ellie Gooch and 5-0 on the stroke of half time from Lily McShane.
The half ended with the 10th Panzer Division, aka Wyrley Panthers, overlooking a bedraggled BEF, aka Phoenix, lying in the dunes around Dunkirk. Now was the time to snuff out resistance and win the war.

Millie came on at the start of the second half for Lateisha, but the pattern did not change as Wyrley launched attack after attack on the Phoenix defences. Numerous corners could not be turned home as the Panthers tried to push Phoenix into the sea and oblivion, but the gallant home side kept fighting hard to keep the score down, all the while trying to break out. Their tenacity was rewarded after 6 minutes of the second half as a shot cannoned off Amy and the Phoenix number 9 tucked home the rebound. Was that a flotilla of small boats bobbing on the horizon?

Wyrley set to again after the shock of conceding a goal and had shot after shot, corner after corner and chance after chance. Yet, as the ref blew his whistle one last time, it was 5-1 to the Panthers and a battered but unbowed Phoenix team left the field with their heads high.

So, Dunkirk. A massively overwhelming sledgehammer was blocked by a rather tough nut, and that was how today’s game went. Phoenix can take great credit from their second half determination and tenacity. The Panthers can take great store from their sheer dominance of 90% of the game, but must surely rue the missed opportunity of greatly easing their goal difference (not to mention winning this metaphorical war).

Lily Hughes won the player of the match award and the Panthers finished very creditably in the first part their inaugural season.

Just one more question. What do my match report and the Americans have in common? Simple – they are both really late, arriving long after the event started!


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