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GU14 Eagles 0 – 1 Hertford Lions (A)

24th January 2024

By Mark Rogers

The Supra League had so far lived up to its reputation as a forum for fast paced entertainment and a hotbed of emerging hockey talent. Round 2 proved no exception as the fearless Eagles braved a long trip to the windswept North [Home Counties] to take on the fearsome Hertford Lions, a team who’d averaged seven to eight goals a game throughout the season and remained comprehensively undefeated. The question on everyone’s lips was, “Could the Lions be tamed?”

The game was set before the first whistle. Against the backdrop of an enthusiastic home crowd, Hertford warmed up with lung busting runs, leonine roars and blood curdling strikes, their red shirts representing the pound of flesh they’d give to this game. The Eagles were tightly huddled: serious, cerebral, disciplined and controlled. An irresistible force against an immovable object.

The Lions started furiously. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, they charged through the Eagles midfield intent on bringing war, conquest, goals and, through a couple of eyebrow shaving swings, death. However, every battling charge was stopped in its tracks by a thicket of sticks. First Nancy, then Emily, then Bella, then Elsa. The Eagles spread their wings like a shield and, one after another, each player was backed up by the next until the ball was repelled. Thou shalt not pass!

Lexi had the game of her life. For every Lions attack that entered the D, there was a Lexi limb getting in the way. Unlike Lions, Eagles are not cats but Lexi used up all nine of her lives keeping the ball out of the net.

“Hit it!” shouted the travelling support, their anxiety building as the play seemed destined to remain in the Eagles’ 22. However, shouting “Hit it!” to the Eagles is much like shouting “Boot it!” to Real Madrid. In spite of all of the sustained pressure, the Eagles kept their cool and played the ball out from the deep, Maeve, Freya, Erin and Ellie all passing in neat triangles as they inched the ball into the Lions’ half. The Lions had been tamed in a defensive masterclass.

Natalia, Tileena, Izzy and Saskia all ran so hard up front and the Eagles had their chances. However, it was one of those matches where the Eagles did not get the rub of the astro. Much like a games of snakes and ladders, no matter how far and patiently they moved up the board the Eagles were always one square away from a snake back to the start and the Lions were always one square away from a ladder to the finish.

Ultimately, as the epitaph of any decapitated lion tamer will say, a tamed lion is still a very dangerous beast and the goal the Lions snatched in the first half remained the difference between the sides. However, given that the Lions had mauled their previous Supra League opponents 11-0, it really was a big win for the courageous Eagles who go into Round 3 with a positive goal difference and all to play for.