The Arsenal Ladies youngsters produced a poor performance and were rightly beaten 2-3 at home by Reading Women on Easter Sunday.
It was their first defeat in ten League games and hopefully a one-off performance. It will be certainly a wake-up call before the FA WSL Development League Cup final against Sheffield.
The squad was very thin on the day, as we only had the starting XI and a goalkeeper substitute. It was a bizarre situation and you wonder how the club let things like this happen. It is not the first time, though, I have seen this happen time and time again with the reserve team through the years.
Considering there are 22 first team players and not all of them can be named on the team-sheet in Manchester today, they could have spared a player or two who might need some game time as well.
Out of a squad of 17 development team players, three were on international duty with England u17s, one is currently injured and another unavailable, that left the team with 12 players and no outfield substitute.
The starting XI picked itself: Rogers; Driscoll, Parker, Ritchie-Williams, Cowley; Brunton-Wilde, G Allen, Stojko-Down, Devlin, Fyfe; Clarke.
Unused sub: S Allen
The goals were scored by Clarke and an own goal from the Reading keeper.
Bad results and defeats can happen, but it was mainly the manner of the performance that was disappointing. The team lacked leadership on the pitch when things were going wrong. Both technical leadership and vocal leadership.
That leadership is normally provided by Wubben-Moy who leads by example on the pitch and manage to keep things under control but she was unfortunately in Serbia with England and was sorely missed.
So out of the 11 players, two played at the required Arsenal Ladies standard: Brunton-Wilde and Cowley. A few had an ok performance and the remaining players were poor on the day. As I mentioned in a previous report, the team has been playing consistently well throughout the 2015/16 and was on a 12 game unbeaten run.
So it really looks like it was a one-off bad performance from the girls. On a side note, the referee and his assistant were not great but did not show any bias toward us or Reading, so the girls should really have dealt with it.
I also found it disappointing that the coach did not make any change, in tactics or in personnel. Some players were clearly not pulling their weight, others showed some petulant behaviour and it is up to the manager to remind the players of their duty. Our substitute goalie would have probably done a better job as an outfield player
Considering the girls are young and still learning (17-19 years old), it is certainly a good lesson at a relatively small cost. Although the team is now in third place, three points behind Reading and two points behind Chelsea, they still have three games in hand, so the title is still in our hands.
The main point to take from the game is will the players develop quickly and well enough to be part of the first team soon? You can find the real character in a team and its players and through adversity and what we found yesterday was unexpected, to say the least..