A Game Drawn at a Rate of Neots…James Bailey
It was a fresh February Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining and the astro was still sticky from the excessive, yet justified, amounts of Prosecco spilt in celebration by the L2s the previous day following their epic 6-0 win/championship-claiming game against Newmarket. However…at this moment no-one cared about the L2s and everyone’s gaze was solely on the most important game of the weekend.
The game began with a thorough team talk from the captains, Hannah and Ollie, or ‘Han-lie’ as they would later become to be known. The details of the team talk I have since forgotten but I can only assume the objective to score more goals than the opposition was mentioned.
The first ten minutes of the game were played tentatively by South. Some solid connections were made between the defence and midfield, courtesy of Steve Browne and Amalia Thomas (occupying both the centre back positions) feeding quality balls into the middle, where Tabatha Broome, Rhi Davis and James Bailey were causing havoc with fluid leads. However, despite this South struggled to penetrate a solid back line.
St Neots capitalised first during this period of adjustment, scoring with a fast break exposing an overload on a scrambling defence. A valiant, yet flailing, save made by Darren ‘the Cat’ Farmer ended in a scrappy goalmouth tap in.
Unfazed, South remembered the pre-game advice of ‘Han-lie’; scoring more goals would have to be the priority now. With a new-found impetuousness, South regained control from the restart, responding to conceding with a flurry of attacks and a more determined/aggressive playing style. This was epitomised by Rhiannon Davis who begun to play with the metaphorical strength of someone twice her size, on one occasion going shoulder to shoulder with St Neots’ Goliath centre forward. Unfortunately, for Rhi she didn’t literally possess this ambitious strength and was sent rolling along the turf like a woodlouse, only to spring back to her feet after a series of revolutions. Shortly after this, an interception and solo run spanning the length of the pitch by James Bailey led to another Harry Lewis (tap in) goal, who had positioned himself on the back post awaiting the pass to the far post.
Clearly inspired by this, momentum shifted to build with South as the first half progressed with another goal and assist from the Lewis and Bailey partnership. The only real blip came from Amalia Thomas who momentarily forgot which team she was playing for, opting to pass the ball to the opposition centre forward (the lengths some people will go to, to get out of playing in defence). Luckily for South, Jo Dant’s lighting quick reflexes saved the day, managing to dispossess the lucky opponent as he was mid-swing for his shot on goal, earning him a place as MoM.
In the second half the opposition were clearly antsy about their lost lead and tensions were visibly higher. Captain Ollie Lamming was the first to suffer at the hands of the slightly more feisty opposition, as he was rather rudely pushed off the ball by an over-eager St Neots central midfielder (she was big for fourteen, to be fair!). But Ollie wasn’t the only one being bullied by children; the big man himself, Sean Gardiner, was being tested by their extremely skilful youngster who seemed consistently to scurry beyond the big man’s grasp.
Alas, against the run of play they managed to get a pretty decent last minute goal to level the scores at two all, despite South dominating possession and creating wave after wave of solid attacking opportunities. MoM was shared quite rightly between Jo Dant and Hannah Kenyon, who were both rocks in defence. LoM was awarded to James Bailey for numerous reasons, such as tackling children and for some inexplicable reason picking up so many wounds over the course of the game that he was bleeding everywhere. The main reason however was for regressing into some sort of seagull type creature who was quoted on numerous occasions to have repeated the phrase, “Mine, mine, mine” (apparently people don't appreciate commitment and clear/concise communication). All in all, a good South team performance and a good time had by all.
"Picking balls like they were on trees" (as one match vote put it). Nothing got through Hannah.