AFC Unity’s unbelievable underdog run of five games undefeated finally came to an end on Remembrance Sunday against Rotherham United’s development side, who won 3-0.
“In a weird way, it’s almost a relief,” said AFC Unity manager Jay Baker. “For a team nobody expected to win a single game, there came a lot of pressure, the longer the run continued – I’m glad we’ve now got that loss out of the way, in a way.”
Rotherham played some excellent passing football, but for AFC Unity, the final third became bereft of productivity.
“The pitch seemed smaller to what we’re used to so we found ourselves suddenly running out of track,” said Baker. “But our opponents played really well, and I again experimented, and I have to take much of the responsibility for the result.”
“We showed absolute determination throughout a tough and gruelling match, and were unfortunate to lose our epic unbeaten run,” admitted coach Jonny Hodgson. “It was top work, but credit to Rotherham.”
He wasn’t the only one quick to praise AFC Unity’s opponents.
“We were very creative on the ball and made a lot of opportunities, but lost out to some fantastic finishing from Rotherham,” said captain Jane Watkinson.
“I’m gutted we didn’t get the result, but Rotherham had some quality finishing,” agreed coach Olivia Murray. “It was a great match to watch from the sidelines, with some excellent goalkeeping from both of our team’s ‘keepers today,” she added, referring to AFC Unity goalkeepers Chessy Hollingdale and debutant Lauren Williams.
The club’s personnel are content with only their second loss of the season so far, from seven games.
“You win some, you lose some, but it was a great display of teamwork again, with lots of positives to take away,” said Murray. “We should keep the faith.”
Watkinson agreed: “Despite the result, I think we have a lot of positives to take from the game as a team,” she said. “It’s definitely onwards and upwards for us, having already achieved so much this season against the odds.”
“We’ve gone from being a brand-new club with a unique ethos aiming to avoid the bottom of the table, to getting right up there in the mix of it at the top,” added Baker. “We’re all about believing in something better, and we ourselves are only going to get better.”
Photo credit: Rotherham United Ladies Development