FMR Mermaids unfortunately began their home game against Australind on Sunday without a full team.
This simple fact played a huge role in determining the game’s outcome, as it effectively meant the game began as a 15 against 10 contest, since Australind had a full complement of 11 plus a further 4 interchange players.
Injuries and unavailability have crippled the Mermaids’ options very early in the season.
The game began with the Mermaids’ 10 players working hard to combat Australind’s extra number.
It was immediately clear that this would be a problem for the Mermaids.
The Mermaids however have a never say die team attitude and began the game with their usual effort and spirit despite being outnumbered by a much more experienced team.
The defence of Kate Salvatore, Louise Dumpleton, Noemie Merrill and Tannah Woodlands were under pressure from the first whistle.
Salvatore made one immense goal saving tackle and the other members of the defence were equally brave.
Australind were using the spare player very effectively and after only 7 minutes the visitors took the lead when they capitalised on a series of pressurised errors from the home side to create a free player inside the penalty box who scored from close range.
The Mermaids were being over-run and stand in goalie Jaz McIntosh was working overtime to keep Australind attackers at bay.
FMR had to out work their opponents to stay in the game and through sheer workrate and commitment this is what they did.
Jordan Bernhardt was captain and midfield anchor with her relentless effort, tackling, accurate distribution and leadership all combining with her youthful midfield partner Molly Quick to keep the Mermaids in the game.
Ava Wilson was providing great support to both attack and defence with her strong running.
The Mermaids do not know when they are beaten and continued to launch counter attacks against a numerically stronger and more experienced Australind.
Before half-time Mermaid’s striker Sarah Bertram arrived and at least made the on field numbers equal.
This was a boost for the Mermaids and they lifted their onfield out put accordingly.
Almost immediately Sarah latched onto a perfect through ball from Imogen Smith to beat a defender and shoot on goal, only to have the shot saved by the Australind goalkeeper.
The second half was a repeat of the first except for the fact that Australind managed to finish their chances and FMR did not.
Australind’s 4 substitutes maintained fresh legs on the ground while FMR tired as the game progressed.
The entire team was running out of puff as a result of Australind using their numerical advantage to force FMR to run and chase hard all day.
To their credit this is exactly what they did and amazingly the Mermaids continued to attack and create chances.
Imogen Smith must have run a marathon during the game and in one passage of play she beat three players at speed only to see her shot go wide.
Coach Slater made some positional changes and the Mermaids could consider themselves unlucky not to convert any of the many chances they created.
However the Australind goalkeeper continued to save everything the Mermaids threw at her.
On one occasion she made a good save from a header and immediately sent a long clearance downfield.
With the Mermaids pushed forward to support their attack, there was no-one with the legs to catch the speedy Australind counter attack which resulted in another goal.
Finally the dam broke for FMR when Sarah Bertram collected a through ball from Bernhardt out paced the chasing defenders and finished with a powerful shot into the Australind net.
This was a game in which the final score board did not do justice to the effort of the losing team nor the competitiveness of the game overall.
FMR produced some passages of play that were deserving of a better result only to fall at the last hurdle with the ball in the hands of the Australind goalie who had a great game.
Margaret River very youthful Mermaids can be proud of their efforts and never say die attitude against a numerically and physically stronger and vastly more experienced opponent.
Final score 5-1.