Ladies 5s Off to Flying Start
By Emily Hughes
Ladies 5s 2 – 0 London Eds L2
Despite England Hockey doing their best to make the administrative side of the game as complicated as possible, we've had the best possible start to the season. Thanks, in no small part, to Val shouldering all the administrative hassle (I suspect her recycling bin will be jingling with the empty gin bottles when it's emptied!).
Three weeks into working with Billy's new 4-2-2-2 formation, the impact on our on-pitch organisation was evident. A clear and calm team talk from Tarek, reinforcing the key points to focus on, ensured we were all aligned and ready to put everything we had practiced into action on the pitch. Everyone knew their role, we held our structure well and played as a superb cohesive unit, belying the lack of weeks, let alone months/years we have of playing together as a team.
We started strong, intercepting a number of early passes to ensure we put early pressure on, and made sure Eds knew we were a team to be reckoned with. Despite a number of early penetrations into the D, it was about 20 minutes into the game before the deadlock was broken. Gracie picked up the ball on the half way line, drove down the sideline and towards the D – skillfully leaving multiple defenders in her wake – looking for a pass, only to find herself in the D and hammering the ball straight into the goal!
Momentum and possession stayed firmly with us for the remainder of the first half. Helped in no small part by our defence barely allowing Eds the ball, and Sunny showing all her experience to calmy take the ball off them and out of danger whenever Eds thought they might have half a hope.
Things were looking a little dicey at the start of the second half, when Eds were really piling the pressure on us. However, after Marlijn absolutely dominated a one on one, the tables turned and we were back on top. At times you could have been forgiven for thinking we thought we were playing rugby. Gracie flattened one opponent, Helen got taken out and hit the deck in the D (winning a short, which I presume made it worth it), and Amber took hit to the neck. After a short break to recover, Amber came back on with all cylinders firing and took no prisoners for the rest of the game.
We won a number of short corners, but couldn't quite find a way past their keeper to seal the game. However, the decisive moment came when Gracie drilled a great ball down the line to Ruth, who carried it along the baseline into the D and crossed it (I know, who knew Ruth had it in her to pass the ball when in the D?!) to Rosina on the P-spot who slotted it straight past the keeper. Eds’ shoulders visibly dropped as we went 2-0 up with not long left to play. We kept it together, maintaining composure and organisation, to ensure this remained the final score.
POMs: Gracie and Sunny, for their aforementioned contributions
DOD: Me, apparently when you're over a certain age, turning up proudly in your first pair of slides is more 'mutton dressed as lamb' than cool. Who knew.
Thanks to everyone involved for a thoroughly enjoyable match.