FINALLY We Got It Played! (Fourth Time’s the Charm)Laurie McKenzie
Thirteen a little weary players arrived in Newmarket for the fourth time trying to play this game, dating back from 25th November 2017 (very pleased not to be sent on an about-turn for the second time). Thankfully warming up in balmy sunshine this Sunday afternoon, we were remarking on how hard (and slow) the pitch was even then (i.e. imagine trying to play on it in freezing weather :/ ). A slow pitch would not suit our playing style, but we would try nonetheless to stick to our fast passing style of hockey. All bar one of the team having played the day before in the friendly against our 4s (not all being on the same side), legs were a little tired… Half-term plus a Sunday game making a serious dent on numbers to start with…
After losing the toss, we tactically switched ends to avoid the low sun (thanks for the tip, Lydia). We were quick to steal it back after not getting first pushback. Passing play was building nicely and, about ten minutes in, was smoothly translated into our first short corner. This resulted in first blood going to Jess, off a short corner, as striker. (Sweet! She can strike all on them - I’ll stay safely back behind the halfway line = #ideal)
Next up it was Emily’s turn, to transform a slightly botched short routine into a goal by running in from right slip to tidy away a rebound. (Rebounds are a critical part of any short routine, right?)
Next up, an L3s’ classic left slip short routine to Kath to sink safely into the backboards - A firm favourite this season! :D
This makes it all sound like plain sailing… Newmarket’s defence were tenacious throughout, hungry to clear all this pressure out from their D, to the point we were almost guilty of not winning our fair share on fifty-fiftys in their defensive D… Not however true of this half’s fourth goal - whilst a defender was busy engaging Lauren, Polly deftly stole the ball away to pop in our fourth. #sneakysneaky we like that!
Newmarket had their moments too, long, youthful legs breaking through our defence (who’d got rather flat) choosing to chip the ball on in our D. Lydia, excited to see the ball finally enter the twenty-three, was quick to dismiss it straight back up to the halfway line.
Half time, four-nil up. Not our best play. Yes we were tired, but let’s - try to keep some width and height… Defence - let’s pivot more… Keep it up, but room for improvement.
No rest for Newmarket in the second half: tired but still after more, we pressed on. We graciously fluffed one short corner but were quick to respond by winning another. This one going to plan D: (that means it’s intentional) striker misses, for Meg behind to slip left to Kath, to sweep single strike into melee in front of the keeper for Lou to touch in her first. Five-nil.
Newmarket had another foray into our D, this time putting it wide of the goal. It was round about this point that Janette, frustrated at what she deemed a less than perfect tackle by herself, let off some choice words of self-deprecation… According to the umpire this was not the first time…and I was told that the next person to swear would get me carded off the pitch as captain. About five minutes later I was nervously called over a second time by the umpire, fortunately only to be warned our subbing wasn’t crisp enough so was resulting in twelve players on the pitch. #phew
Newmarket hassled well in midfield, getting another opportunity which they chose to smash into our D. Lydia leapt gracefully over to watch it roll in, as no one had got a touch on it on its way through. We effectively got it back up the end we like it in, for one of our mids to smash it in from the top of D and Lou to get a cheeky touch in to slip it behind the keeper and in. Six-nil.
More South pressure can only mean one thing, more South attacking shorts… (right?) For this one we tried one of the well-oiled routines: it didn’t come off, however Emily, ever the goal-hungry opportunist, drove in on a rebound to lift it in a neat controlled arc into the top left hand corner of the goal from the right hand side of the D - A brace for Emily. Seven-nil.
Our last goal was a testament to how the team has got where it is this season (plus all credit to our coaches who have really helped us work at this). It was a lovely open play demonstration of how to attach down the right wing off a break, drive up the baseline (Lauren B I think?) to pop around the keeper to Lou, waiting on the flick spot to sweep in behind a flummoxed keeper. (We might even have had the 90 degree pass option available too…?) Lou’s first ever hat-trick for South! Eight-nil!
MoM votes were wide spread throughout the team, with Meg and Kat getting single votes; Polly, Lou, and Eliza all with two votes a piece; however, the ultimate winner being Jess with three votes. Well worked, everyone! LoM votes were equally well spread, with singles for Emily for throwing her stick, me for how often the umpires called me over, as captain, for a little chat, but these were eclipsed by the four-way tie between potty-mouthed Janette, victimised-but-argumentative Kath, the hat-trick-that-could-have-been-more Lou, and over-dedicated Tuffers, desperate to preserve her Goal Queen title, each getting three votes.
Three points closer to division champions.
Plus a clean sheet (maintaining the meanest defence in the East League)
A short-corner-conversion-rate of five out of siz: Not quite perfection – Dave – but a sizable improvement on where we started. Plus that was with our star striker out of action…
A team made up of lots of unfamiliar faces, plus tired legs from back-to-back hockey, means next weekend’s rematch back at Fortress Long Road promises to be a good one for South.
Naughty language! Nearly getting your captain carded…
Pulled up for appealling, told umpire, "You'll KNOW when I appeal!"
Missing an open goal.
For even considering playing with stitches in her finger!