After a couple of close games with disappointing results, the M1s were looking to bounce back with a win. The three-one victory at home and the gap between the two sides in the table gave South a measure of confidence but the topsy-turvy nature of the league and the pressure of the title race meant that nothing was certain - in the words of vice-captain Harry, “Every game is a big game.”
Before the game there were a couple of early shouts for LoM, Chris P going for a pre-warm-up McDonalds (claims of a sandwich were not believed) and Stu leading the team warm-up to his car to collect his water-bottle, but a fifteen-man squad and good intensity on the pitch boded well for the match.
From push back, the M1s looked the part, playing the ball around with confidence and pressing hard. Possession in forward areas is always key and the front three pressed hard forcing 50/50 passes that the midfield capitalised on, picked off and then attacked the D. Good chances were created from out wide, players driving to the baseline and putting quality balls across the goal but the best chances came from short corners. Chris had a flick picked off the line and a few messy scrambles in front of goal were almost turned in but it took an accurate push from James B into the far corner to break the deadlock.
The first goal settled the nerves and South continued to press and create chances while Bourne struggled to threaten. A few breaks were dealt with by a solid defence and Darren in goal was clearly up for a clean sheet with a composed performance. Shifting the ball from the back, Stu and Tom R played quick and accurate balls up into midfield, with wing-backs Doug, Aston and Mike providing width and pace (well, two of them were…). Another short corner and another goal from James, practically a carbon copy of the first, gave the M1s a comfortable lead but it wasn’t until the third late on in the second half that the game looked sewn up. An interception from Mike – good to have him back after a suspension last Saturday (from the Cricketers pub for being “loose as balls”) – passed on to Oli who sped down the right to the baseline and put a ball across to be deflected in off a defender.
There were few moments of quality in the second half; a missed tap-in from Chris, another missed tap-in from Harry L and a successful tap-in to make it four-nil from Jim “M1s’ Best Beard Winner 2019” Hockley with the assist for James. The real action of the second half came from the usually solid centre-back pair of Tom and Stu, as both of them appeared to forget what they were doing on the pitch. Tom collected the ball and without a second thought, threw it straight up in the air for no reason, thinking perhaps to test the laws of gravity. He could not be reached for comment. In a more spectacular display of losing your freaking mind, Stu barged a player down in the D after an ill-advised dribble and, after a short break, brought himself on in midfield. His attacking foray lasted all of about ninety seconds: a Gerrard-esque run onto the pitch, commit a blatant foul and get sent off – only a green, luckily.
A clean sheet, a win and a good performance gives the M1s a confidence boost and a great chance of getting one of the coveted promo- wait, I better not jinx it… #everygameisafinal
It was a strange game, this. I remember it in a series of sepia-tinged still photos and brief and crackled Super 8 clips. The Chalk shuffle. The Anns leer. The lukewarm canned hotdogs. I have had better Saturdays.
We had travelled to Spalding in reasonable spirits and arrived, other than Shin’s car (as per usual), in reasonable time. It had been billed as a Big Game, but there was little sign of nerves as we negotiated our way through the locked upstairs changing bar and James Menzies’ loungewear warm-up, which he led with all the intensity of Barney Stuttard having a bath.
As the game began, our hosts quickly got on top. They were playing in a peculiar style though, alternating between pregnant periods of pedestrian pace and then attacking explosively. Very similar, in fact, to the performance of our vice captain’s stomach on the journey to the match.
Spalding took the lead after six or seven minutes. We had done well to repel an initial attack, but got turned over attempting to play out from the back and were ruthlessly punished. Mike Gillingham, nobly helping out after keeping for the 5ths earlier in the day, had no chance. We hit almost straight back though, with a classic Ash Artaman short-corner drag-flick.
Our midfield trio of Walsh, Menzies and Puddefoot was trying hard but, if anything, looked a little one-paced. I decided to bring myself on, to operate even slower and at least, I reasoned, add a bit of variety. Puddefoot, resplendent in his protective elbow support and looking a little like the Terminator crossed with a hobbit, was sacrificed.
We were playing some decent stuff, but a free hit from very close to the twenty-three metre line was quickly taken, hammered into the circle and skilfully deflected in. Again we responded and again it was from a short corner; this time Shin Kim throwing the goalbound effort and Tom Blair batting in the rebound. It was a curious game for Blair upon his return to the team, with his new fringe proving so heavy that it often caused him to spontaneously fall over, usually when through on goal, which is an unfortunate habit for a forward.
So it was honours even at the turnaround and we went into our huddle. We seemed to have worked out how to counter Spalding’s main threat (i.e. stand next to him) and had been slightly in the ascendancy as the first half ended. It was looking good for the second period and I was confident that our superior fitness would see us edge a result.
It was something of a blow, then, when Spalding scored twice in the next five minutes. Chris Walsh took this particularly badly and became engulfed in a solo meltdown about how unfair it all was that Jamie Redknapp was getting better looking with age. Meanwhile, Asbo Dom was making friends as usual, whilst Nik flitted around in the vapour trails left by Jack Chalk. Mariano was carrying the fight, bombing up the right flank, and once managed to out-sprint everyone else, if not the ball, to the baseline. Some chances ensued but, helped by some wily game-management from our opposition, we never really managed to build up a head of steam.
It was with some dejection that we trudged off the field, but thankfully next week gives us the chance to get straight back on the horse and avenge November’s defeat against local rivals Cambridge City.
|Date||9th February 2019|
|Location||Long Road College, Cambridge|
|Result||Think we won, I couldn't really see from the floor|
|Belligerents||Alford & District M1s||Cambridge South M3s|
|Commanders||Their monster goalie||Captain Kern|
|Strength||11 and a few subs||11 (depending on how good you can count)|
|Casualties and loss||Points and pride||1 ankle|
Multiple girlfriends and "work colleagues" crowded the sidelines, excitedly waiting to watch some hockey. Not sure they saw much of that. At least at the start South played with dominance and speed, making the most of Alford's tired legs after their long trip down from somewhere up north. But there was nothing to show for it.
So ten minutes in both teams tried a different tack. Less hockey, more random stick waving and hitting the ball to see where it went. Joe threw himself to the floor like the pro he has become at this. Adam ignored his own advice, shouting for every free hit he could. And George simultaneously saved their players from hitting each other whilst winding them up as best he could.
During all of this there was some hockey supposed to be being played. Some quick movement down their wing and a scuffed shot beat George to make it one-nil. Half time: people spoke, others complained, I ate Haribo.
Despite my best efforts, for the second half we started with eleven on the pitch. A short time later it was one-all thanks to Ali edging it in off a short. Then two-one to them, George (probably showing off) opening his legs and doing the splits to see the ball fly under him through his five-hole.
I then saw my opportunity. At two-one down the team needed a hero. One whose death would give the rest of his team the desire to go on and win. Like that guy in one of the Avengers movies who doesn't really do much but then gets stabbed and everyone loves him. After spinning past a player I trod down on the opponent's stick, rolling my ankle and falling to the floor.
It worked immediately. A few minutes later, with everyone ignoring me rolling on the ground, Joe managed to trick one of their defenders into playing football in the D. P-flick put away by Nev.
Meanwhile I crawled off the pitch and managed to make it to the sidelines. Whilst lying on the ground and shouting at random people on the pitch, South began to take charge again. Another short sent into the D and Ali edged it in again to make it three-two.
South held out for a crucial win, earning that coveted eighth place for a week at least.
What to say about this game? Well, we had a gameplan (whoo!), we had 1sts’ keeper Dazzler doubling-up (double whoooo!) and we had two new faces from the M5s in Garth and Oli RB (welcome, guys). Only problem was, we didn’t get around to using any of these resources properly until the game was twenty minutes old and we were three-nil down.
Having first dealt with the what we were going to call our surfeit of Oli’s, the aforementioned Rubinstein-Baylis being ‘RB’ and regulars Scott and Weston going as, erm, ‘Scott’ and ‘Weston’ [it would work so much better if Oli S was Smith, wouldn’t it? Can we get him to change his name by deed poll to facilitate a weak joke? Yes, I think we can…], …erm, where was I? Ah yes, having sorted out what to call the various Oli’s, we got underway.
The first five minutes actually went alright with Oli Weston make a couple of promising looking dribbles into the heart of the Dragons’ defence. However, we were not pressing as had been agreed and that was leading to overloads, just as had happened in the game at Long Road. That meant a mis-trap was going to be costly, as happened when one by the near post ran free to the far, where a Dragon put an accurate but achingly slow reverse stick shot back across goal and into the far corner. It felt like slow-mo, but actually this was real time.
The next fifteen minutes where all Bourne Deeping as they used their experience to pick our enthusiastic but disorganised effort apart. The second came from a penalty flick awarded when a Dragons forward got into a staggering amount of space in our circle and, as he was preparing to shoot, got clattered by a South defender charging back to attempt to deal with the dire situation. An attempt to tackle did have to be made but the award was fair enough. The flick was calmly put into Darren’s bottom corner. A third followed soon after from a cleanly struck penalty corner.
At this point it dawned on us that, whilst Bourne Deeping might not be as physically quick as some of the sides we have played, mentally they were right on it; their stick skills and game-reading were of a high level. Trying to turn them over in their twenty-three was both pointless and counter-productive as it destroyed our shape. So we began to execute the agreed plan, and, well, it looked better.
We had a number of half-chances in the rest of the first half, mostly when JJ was able to move upfield and fire crash balls into the circle. Jo was the closest to finishing one of these off, but his diving attempt at the far post just wasn’t quite stretchy enough. We also had an opening or two after the break, Oli RB the nearest to scoring for us when he got across his man to reach a cross, but his deflection went wide of the near post. Would have been a good goal. Oh well.
That said, the hosts did still look the stronger team and likelier to score through the second period. We have much to ponder if we meet them next season, though that remains an open question as results elsewhere didn’t help the M4s’ cause. What, at the start of the day, might have been a nine point gap on the teams below is now only three. The run-in could be rather jumpy…
After last weekend's weather-imposed break the M5s were fired up and ready to exact revenge for the three-one defeat inflicted on us by Ely in this season's away fixture. The squad of 'regulars' were boosted this week by P&P stalwart Martin Grove and son Thomas, making his league debut for South.
The home team got off to a lively start, inspired by the captain's suggestion that we should start every match on the basis that we were already two goals down given our recently discovered expertise at almost snatching a second half comeback from this situation.
The game got underway with the away team still awaiting the arrival of three of their players. South were able to capitalise on this when an early foray into their D offered James Y the opportunity to get a shot away. The strike ricocheted off the keeper's pads straight to Ian M, who delivered a perfectly weighted pass to Howard S waiting on the far post. One-nil; we were up and running!
South continued to press hard with Simon T making regular incursions into the Ely D and it was one of these the delivered a second goal. Two-nil at half-time. This sounded strangely familiar, except we were in the driving seat this time.
The Ely team were clearly having none of it and immediately put the home team defence under sustained pressure which, despite some characteristically amazing saves from keeper and MoM Micheal G, resulted in the away team pulling one back. This wasn't going to be the walkover we had planned. South continued to apply the pressure with a series of short corners, alas leading to nothing, but we managed to hold on until the end…just!
A closely fought match played in good spirits and enjoyed by all.
MoM was Micheal G for once again 'saving' the day if you'll pardon the pun?
LoM went to Andy T who has clearly re-discovered his 'lemonesque' skills in managing to spread his hockey kit across three different counties!
Robyn’s version of the match report, because the actual match report by our Lemon Maddy was late:
We always knew it was going to be a tough game against Nomads as up until very recently they were sitting right beside us at third in the table. It was an incredibly windy day down at Long Road. With forecasted winds of up to 49mph, it wouldn’t just be Nomads we’d have to battle to get the win today; the elements were against us too.
Nomads started strong with a goal in the first three minutes, but we fought back and got a spectacular Laura Ludlow goal within the next three minutes. The match continued at the rocket pace it had started at: Nomads scored another very good goal during a well rehearsed short corner, but we weren’t going to hang around and lose this match, no, no.
With fire in our bellies we got another two goals before half time. Flo and Alice working nicely together in the D, Flo lifted the ball towards Alice who nailed it into the back of the net in a classic Alice-style goal. Flo however didn’t want to miss out being on the score sheet, so she hammered one into the back of the goal - another very classic Flo goal!
It was three-two to South at halftime and it stayed that way until full time with no goals being scored for either team in the second half.
Those were the goals. Lemon-worthy incidents of course came from our resident Lemon - Maddy Barker: 1) “Shall we have a team night out on Tuesday in Fez?” Absolutely not. 2) Falling over her feet and landing on her bum.
The actual match report from our Lemon:
With a day full of action, Cambridge South headed onto the astro with aspirations for three points this Saturday. After a lengthy warm up the game started with an unfortunate goal for Nomads in the first two minutes, waking the girls up. Luckily the Ladies 1s didn’t let this get to them, winning back an extrodinary goal moments afterwards from Laura Ludlow to equalise. The girls kept playing their game, gaining another goal from Flo… leading to a two-one advantage. Nomads wouldn’t leave without a fight, scoring another goal. This was however overshadowed by the amazing volley goal by Alice Hug (gaining her Man of the Match). This would end with Cambridge South three-two up at half time. The second half was less eventful but South kept their lead even after Maddy Barker decided to let her legs give way to gain another Lemon of the Match, making her the player to receive the most Lemon of the Match wins of all the ladies’ teams and possibly the club as a whole.
South arrived, South scored (a lot), South left.
A few other things happened:
Izzy had to take her watch off.
She also scored four goals.
Nichola threw her stick (and got a green card…).
Jess and Dani bopped people on the head.
Jess scored two goals.
Flix scored two.
Rebecca scored three (all on the reverse) but also ran the ball off the pitch.
Grace and Eimear both scored one each.
Off-brand jelly babies were rationed.
Louise broke her helmet.
Ireland won the rugby.
We had ciabattas.
Everyone had a good time.
What more can be said about a thirteen-one win?
It was a very, very windy day courtesy of Storm Erik but nothing was going to deter the L3s on our mission to continue the unbeaten streak we’ve had since Christmas (wooo, go us!).
In the first half there was great attacking play from Dani and Zara with Jas making some fab runs in the midfield. Some solid defending from the whole defence made sure Haverhill’s attack was kept under control. After the majority of the first half was dominated by South we were finally rewarded with a well deserved goal just before half time, courtesy of Zara.
In the second half, with one goal under our belts we settled into the game with the strong attacking play continuing. Rhi held strong on the press taking on the full force of the Haverhill hits and our defence continued to cause problems for the Haverhill forwards. Three more goals were scored in this half, a hat-trick for Dani! The second half was not without some drama with a few players from both sides getting slightly frustrated. A sassy stick throw from Tuffers earned her LoM for this match.
Final score four-nil!
MoM votes were split between seven different players!! There was a three way tie for MoM this week between Lucy, Zara and Dani with votes also for Rhi, Hannah, Lauren E and Louisa
Loopy did some fab saves and one-on-ones.
Scarlet and Katy turned out to be the wonder pair with some fantastic teamwork and passes between them.
Anna ran a lot and had good stick skills.
Fi had some amazing passes and good shots on goal.
Ginny did some good marshalling of the back line.
Bex had some aggressive play (the good kind) and good pressure on the ball.
Alexine had some really good ball skills and fab runs down the wings.
Olivia was super speedy.
Laura had some superb tackles and feeding from the back.
Annabel got super involved in chasing the ball.
Emily had some fab positioning and scored a goal.
Vicki had some really good clearances (apart from her epic dummy hit from the sixteen).
Savannah did some brilliant passes and creating space.
Katy got MoM for TWO really fab goals and lots of excellent movement; an amazing first league game showing huge potential for the future.
Zara, although making some good runs and very nearly scoring a goal, still got LoM for:
Losing stick pre-game.
Losing stick at half time.
Umpiring her own play.
A wide variety of noises.
For being super prepared to receive the ball and despairing when Fi passed it the opposite way and voicing her frustration with a slightly less than quiet “NO” as the ball hit the back of the goal (not from her stick).
As Bhav would say, EXCELLENT HOCKEY played by all with some really strong presses, the majority of the play being in the opposition’s twenty-three, and some impressive switches from the back line.
A big ‘thank you’ to Jan and Laura for their work to arrange this fixture and ensure that everyone in the L4s/5s squad got a proper match experience, and of course to St Neots for agreeing to the fixture and for a great match. Polly kindly swapped at the last minute to join this game instead of the much busier afternoon game - and just as well, since a last minute illness would have otherwise left us without a sub.
It was blowing a gale and the effects were very noticeable on the pitch, speeding up or slowing down the pace of the ball and making it hard work to run. It was an open game with lots of good runs and long passes. We used the pitch well, created space and avoided bunching. South started strong, with excellent work from our fowards and support from the mids, winning a few short corners. Iona had a fantastic game in her first match for South, fitting in nicely with the forward line and opening the scoring. Welcome to South, Iona - great to have you with us! There were great runs from Jess, Tess and Catriona throughout the match, with good positioning and they were unlucky not to add more goals to the score sheet.
Well timed tackles and fantastic accurate passes out from defenders Anne and Nicky kept the opposition's attacks at bay. Nicole worked hard as ever in midfield, hassling opponents and mostly winning the ball. St Neots did manage a few breaks, one of which resulted in an equalising goal. Our half time team chat emphasised the importance of man marking and for the midfielders to come back and defend where necessary. We improved upon this in the second half, and didn't allow them any more goals. Sammy made some fantastic runs down the wing, using excellent ball skills to feed balls through to the forwards. Overall a great team performance. Possession moved frequently from team to team - clearly we were doing a good job of tackling and intercepting their passes, maybe our next focus is 'looking after the ball' and tightening up our possession.
Jess took a nasty hit to the thumb but carried on with no noticeable detriment to her play, then went to A&E only after the game, with suspicions of a break (luckily it wasn't) - this girl is hardcore! Eco-worrier Louise took a few moments away from the playing action (South were on the attack) to chase a tissue that had fallen from her pocket all the way back to Lydia’s goal line, as it blew in the wind. Luckily, having retrieved it, St Neots were back on the attack and she was in just the right place to assist the defence. This amused the umpire and won a few Lemon votes, but today's clear Lemon was Lydia for accidentally denting Lou's car door on arriving at the pitch (a gust of wind having blown her door open far wider than intended). Maybe the weather should really have been Lemon.
Pre-match uncertainties as to whether or not we would get teas after a friendly were happily unfounded as we headed to the pub for scampi, sausage rolls and LOTS of chips. Yum.