For the second successive week the M1s ventured east to Norfolk, this time to face Norwich City.
Despite a strong squad and a sunny afternoon the M1s were unable to bring home the win that would’ve taken them top. In all honesty the first minute set the template for the following sixty-nine…a missed pass here, a soft tackle there and generally South on the back foot.
Norwich took an early lead (can’t remember the goal) with South quickly drawing level through a smart (there were faint shouts of back stick from the sideline…) reverse stick goal by Joel. The remainder of the half flashed by with two further goals from each team, including one from Oli and a further goal by Joel. Norwich scored a smart short corner and something else…again, can’t remember.
The second half became more scrappy and the obvious efforts more often than not ended up with South slipping over here, there and everywhere (notable mentions to Harry Chalk, Pearson and Tom, who between them totalled a combined 5.9 gymnastic score!)
Norwich took the lead midway through the second half - fair play, a sharp reverse stick top corner finish - but South responded, showing character and commitment (touch too far for some with Pearson taking the M1s’ obligatory weekly yellow card). With three minutes to go Owen smashed home a half volley from the top of the D to draw things level and South saw out the final minutes with ten men through some fancy footwork, quite literally, from Stu.
With Nomads losing away at Kettering, the top of the table is becoming more and more congested. South play three of the top four teams in the next three weeks, and so as Sir Alex would say…it’s squeaky bum time.
MOM - Owen, quality finish and all round standout performance
LOM - a two horse race between Dave, who turned up without astros, and Harry, who turned up with boxers and trousers post game…but Dave took it
Honourable mention to Bhav for the homemade pakoras for Diwali…
No early away journey can start without the obligatory bacon sarnie. Thanks, Anns!
With our hunger satisfied, we set off for a sunny Peterborough.
With some tweaks to the line up and tactics, the message was clear. Run hard and bully the younger players (more on this point later). Our pre-planned push back routine never materialised, but we chased hard and pressed the defence, trying to unsettle them.
After some neat passes from the defence to midfield, with wingbacks bombing forward, South worked the ball into the D and quickly won a short corner. The call is to go right and I was to get on the post to deflect in. Walshy called an audible and smashed it into the bottom left corner. Boom! One-nil South.
Peterborough then had a spell of possession. When they reached the defence they were mostly denied passing opportunities and even when they broke through they were met with a sliding MSG to swat away the danger. They then win a short corner. After a slip routine, the ball found its way into the net, despite the efforts of Anns to stop it on the line. Continued pressure from the home team was halted by Captain Coops smashed a sixteen up and off the pitch. This was followed with calls from the skipper to press them higher and give the defence a break.
Half time, one-one.
The second half started with us pressing high and winning the ball. Then followed a frustrating passage of play where we failed to find the goal after some strong fast attacks. A combination of wasted chances and strong goalkeeping kept the score at one-all.
With five minutes left, we worked the ball high and started a bit of pinball in the D. The ball found its way to Puddlefoot, on the P spot and an open goal in front of him. A confident hit towards goal was heading in, until a stick came flying at the ball. But it wasn't a defenders stick. For reasons known only to myself I made every effort to stop the goal on the line, merely changing its route to the backboard. I'm sorry. But they all count, so I will take it.
Feeling red faced I snuck off to the sideline to be replaced.
Now, the message to bully the younger players was taken by most to mean apply pressure and cause them to make mistakes. Dom had a different take on this. In trying desperately to hold on to our deserved lead, Dom decided to run through the youngsters and stick tackle anything that moved. It ended in tears for their young winger who was unceremoniously dumped to the ground. Well done, ASBO.
Well deserved win and three points in the bag.
It's been a difficult start to the season for South's Men's 3rds but after four defeats in our opening five fixtures, we've cautiously put together a run of gradually-improving form to be undefeated for three weeks on the bounce. Following a long-haul point in Skegness and a home win against Wisbech, this week was probably our best result to date, holding a Nomads side who were sitting in fourth place at the start of play.
We were away at Nomads' infamous sloping Abbey pitch. Matt has learnt from his past mid-week declarations of good availability and this week delayed the team email until Friday afternoon, confirming a squad of fourteen. This is the M3s though, so by Saturday morning we were duly down to eleven and a half. As Pash put it, "Classic M3s".
In keeping with another longstanding M3s' tradition, after talking about the need to be ready and switched on from the whistle we conceded within the opening two minutes. A Nomads attacker found himself presented with the ball dead centre near the top of the D and, with no defenders in front of him, cracked his strike past an exposed George.
At least familiarity meant we knew how to respond to the situation, and we kept our heads and began to establish ourselves in the game. Ollie and Ali were harrying and closing down in the centre while Pip was making some great link-ups with right back Sev Warren. That right channel provided our best attacking outlet as we moved the ball up towards the front line of Jonny, Ash and Nev, with Joe rolling on from the bench.
The Nomads' threat was built around some good close skills in midfield and several big hitters up front, so the defence's priority was to close down and deny shooting chances. Dylan, Neil and Pash were now picking up the runners and denying Nomads space to work, with George belowing continuously and inarticulately somewhere behind us, like a fog horn out at sea. On several occasions the home side came close to establishing clear blue water between the teams, but some sharp reactions to close down threats and excellent blocks and saves from Foghorn George prevented us from slipping further behind.
Having held on through the difficult opening period, mid-way through the half we levelled. Some good chances had already come and gone, one ball going agonisngly across the face of goal, when Joe reacted ahead of the defence to slip the ball past the Nomads' keeper from close range. With half time approaching though, Nomads finally got their second. A snap shot from one of their aforementioned big hitters, allowed to strike as for once the defence were slow to clear the danger, boomed between an unsighted George's pads even as he snapped his heels together, a fraction too late.
Just as it looked like we would be turning around trailing, from the push back a rapid attack in the final minute of play drew us level again. The attack again came down that favoured right channel before being moved across through Nev to Joe in front of goal, who slipped it to Jonny arriving on the left to throw himself at the ball and knock home with a diving sweep.
Half time necessitated a slight reshuffle as Neil's injured achilles protested against doing another thirty-five minutes. This meant breaking our ace partnership on the right flank, as Sev stepped inside to centre back with Pip dropping into Sev's place. The M3s didn't let it halt our momentum though. While Nomads continued to edge possession and territory, South's continued threat was rewarded with a third goal to take the lead for the first time. It was almost a carbon copy of the previous goal, only this time Jonny didn't need to dive.
Before we could begin to dream about the possibility of a big upset though, Nomads equalised. As the ball was pinned in a melee inside South's D by the baseline, a Nomads forward knelt down to block and win the ball, which was dug out to allow a teammate to slip home.
The remaining period was played out without either side able to break the deadlock, for a draw that was probably the right result after a evenly-contested and well-fought game. More performances like this, and a few more substitutes, and the M3s should be able to put a little bit of light between themselves and the Division 4 trap door. After this week's inter-club derby, it's the intra-club derby versus the M2s next weekend; always a tasty treat.
Due to the match being cancelled because of weather conditions, I’ll keep this relatively short and sweet. Jan’s selfless action, volunteering to become a goalkeeper, resulted in a joint man of the match vote alongside James and his well-placed goal. Due to some shady voting I (Tom) somehow managed LoM with JJ a close second and honourable mentions to Paul, for not even making it to the match, and Jelly, for tactically deciding not to mention he arrived in his car with the roof down while it was raining.
With storm clouds gathering and some of the team arriving a little too close to the start time for comfort we began the match. A strong start for South showed the forwards and midfield pushing again and again into the opposition D but to no avail. The St Ives goalkeeper closed down and saved multiple shots and this, combined with their experienced defensive work, presented an issue for our attack. A strong counterattack from the opposition quickly punished this as St Ives slotted a goal into the corner. This didn’t keep South’s heads down; quickly pushing back up the field, a deflected shot came back to James who swiftly seized the moment to secure himself joint MoM with a beautifully placed goal just past the keeper. The rest of the first half saw a much more even game with St Ives attacking just as much as South did, but some good defensive work and solid midfield tracking back prevented anything from hitting the back of the net. Unfortunately this also held true for the St Ives side, which proved frustrating for our midfield and forwards.
As play resumed, and the weather really began turning for the worst, it became unclear as to whether we were playing hockey or some form of water polo. The deluge was avoided by some (*cough* Oli S) but it soon became clear after a hit from Dave that the ball was no longer travelling very far or fast and was borderline underwater. Sometime during the start of this St Ives scored, putting them two-one up, with a strong counter attack. As the tide had quite literally come in, the umpires decided to call the match off and fortunately for us it will be replayed at a later date (hopefully not ice hockey next time!)
The fixture began with both teams respectfully remembering the fallen and wounded from conflicts over the past one hundred years with a two minute silence.
As the home team took the pushback the heavens opened, but unperturbed (unlike our M4 colleagues) both teams got stuck in to some skilful hockey. The rain intensified and there was a flash of lightning and mighty crack of thunder that echoed around the nearby buildings. Not wishing to see thirty players 'fried' in the 100 x 50m rain-soaked, lightning conductor that the Long Road astro had become, the umpires rightly ushered everyone to the safety of the changing rooms.
Umpire and resident South meteorologist, Neil S, continued to monitor the storm's progress via the Dark Sky app from the comfort of the umpires' changing room until it was deemed safe to continue.
The match got underway again in much improved conditions with the home team taking the initiative. Tom S picked up a ball on the left wing and powered towards a gap in the Kettering defence, before slotting the ball neatly past the keeper. Great start! The South defence and MoM, George T, held strong through a series of short corners awarded to the opposition, whilst midfield and defence continued to push hard for a second goal. Alas it was the visitors who equalised shortly before half-time.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with both teams frequently breaking forward from midfield whilst defending robustly. But it was the away team that had a slight edge when it came to finishing and South soon found themselves two goals down. Spirits un-dampened (or at least only by recurring showers) South continued to press forward and it wasn't long before Rob B found himself in his favourite position, centre of D with the ball nicely poised to be 'reverse-sticked' into the back of the net. With less than five minutes to play South clearly had the momentum to grab a well-deserved draw and continued to press forward, even after 'big-hitter' John G limped off following a point-blank hit to the ankle. Unfortunately time ran out before the motivation and energy, leaving it three-two to the visitors.
MoM was George T for some spectacular work in goal that without a doubt kept us in the game. Strangely there were more LoM votes for his temperamental car than for Shahzad himself, for not making it further than the hard shoulder of the M11, but overwhelming winners were the M4s for not wanting to mess up their hair by playing in the rain!
Perhaps not the victory we had hoped for against a team much improved since last season, but definitely one of our most dogged and determined performances so far this season, so plenty to be positive about! CoP, here we come!
This Saturday the L1s took on Newmarket 1s, a team that came down from Division 1 last season. After Robyn had had her captain’s armband personally delivered, and Blythe’s enforced pre-match positive mental attitude coaching, we were all ready to put the loss and poor performance last week behind us, and to get the promotion challenge back on track.
With the message from Robyn to score or win a short in the first five minutes, South pressed hard from the start. Laura Ludlow put South one-nil up after the first five minutes with a fantastic solo effort. After turning over the ball on the halfway line, and the highest South player on the pitch, she drove at pace all the way to the top of the D, before slotting it past the keeper.
Newmarket were playing fast two-touch hockey, and we matched them with our own sharp triangles and supporting play. We soon had a second on the scoresheet, with Kim coming on as a high forward and scoring in only her second game back after her (hockey) maternity leave! After effective build up play through the midfield, the ball reached Kim in the D, who pushed it past the keeper’s foot and had the Newmarket defenders scrambling to try and it clear off the line. To quote herself, she’s “Back in the game!”
Throughout the first half we had excellent moments of recycling possession and passing back, rather than driving forward into trouble, and transferring the ball from left to right, often through central players Robyn and Amalia. Alison Small finished off another great move from the South girls, in the perfect position on the post to knock the ball home. Three-nil up at half time and the message was to keep playing calm, purple-to-purple hockey, and to retain possession.
The second half was closer and, with some tired legs and a lapse in concentration, Newmarket pulled a goal back. Shortly after, Alice Wright restored the three goal cushion with a hit from the top of the D after intercepting a Newmarket defender’s pass. The defence of Robs, Blythe, Kim, Nicola, Hannah, Maddie and Emily shut down numerous Newmarket attacks, made interceptions and calmly distributed to the attacking players. Emily showed the Under-18 Cambridgeshire County Cricket skills are still there after an awesome block to Newmarket’s lifted shot at a short corner. Near to the end of the game, Alice W added our fifth goal with a strong strike to the bottom corner in one of our practised short corner moves.
Alice W and Laura shared joint man of the match rewards for their efforts in front of goal, and Alice W was voted Lemon after being shown how to put her astros on correctly and suddenly the pain disappeared (thanks, Hannah!) After a great team performance, the L1s finished happy to have bounced back so well after last week, with some good preparation before our trek up to Skegness next week.
Finally, happy eighteenth birthday to our normally default Lemon, Maddy! And most importantly, Maddy’s beautiful yet fragile cake, made by a gin-hazed Katie, made it to Long Road in one piece!
Some elements of this match report are factual, others not so much. We will leave it up to the reader to decide which are which.
South Ladies’ 2s were ready for a tough game this Saturday against third placed Bury. South started strong by combining well as a team to stop Harley-Joe eating Maddy Barker’s birthday cake. First barrier crossed, the team made it outside to support the L1s, to cheer them on and provide birthday gifts mid-subbing rotation. Paul then called us over for a secret team talk, which shall remain secret, but let’s just say there were printed resources involved.
Finally getting to the game, South started strong. It wouldn’t matter if we didn’t - that’s the only match report opening sentence we have. We gained possession well and maintained it for the vast majority of the half, putting good pressure on the D early on. South’s patience was rewarded when Eimear, Dani A, Izzy and Annie took on the keeper with a combination of secret set plays, mind games and 3D skills. Annie slotted away the final shot with a well placed diving reverse stick shot into the top corner.
South’s pressure continued after the first goal, and enabled us to gain a number of short corners (a number between two and four but we are unsure of the exact amount). Izzy took on the first one with a head height hit - a good effort but definitely not allowed. Despite a number of secret routines and close calls, South were unable to convert the remaining 2-4. The deadlock was relieved, however, when Shadow ran down an unspecified wing, took on six players and finished it off by heading it into the goal to extend the lead to two. This narrowly gave her the lady of the game title - followed by left winger and reverse stick striker, Annie.
South’s press was fantastic (that bit is actually true), as were the half time jelly babies. Distracted, H and Ellie did absolutely nothing wrong but were unfairly awarded Lemons of the match.
Unsurprisingly, the second half then got under way and continued in a very similar way to the first. However, Dani A’s dragflicked third goal was a second half highlight which definitely deserves a mention. Unfortunately, an opposition’s stick later took objection to the goal and made contact (accidentally) with her nose. But having 323 subs per game maintained the intensity well.
Thank you for reading, whoever you may be.
South turned up to the across-city derby as the underdogs, Jan’s weekend preview saying what everyone was thinking: “[Getting any points is] going to be a tough ask… City are likely favourites to win this game.” Except nobody can have told the two teams who turned up to play!
Having had a pre-match mimed team talk in the stable from Bethlehem, the L3s started this game very much in control. We passed, we pressured and we hoovered up the ball any time it came into our defensive half to recycle it out and pile on the pressure again and again. City didn’t feature in the first half; but for City’s previous league record, South would have been entitled to believe the game was theirs. Indeed, it was not long before South netted their first goal – a real team effort: long corner taken by Louisa, to Rebecca, a smart pirouette from Tuffers to release a pass, for Lauren B to charge in on straight into goal. One-nil, South! City were rocked!
City, predictably, came out fighting (and quite aggressive) in the second half; but it was still South who gained the advantage with a second goal from a long corner. This time Olivia passed to Rebecca, who passed from the base line to Jasmine to deflect the ball in. Two-nil, South! City were shocked!
The final score was three-two to City; all City goals came in the last fifteen minutes. The final score was against the run of play and South only lost this game because we believed City were the better side. They were not. It was a strong performance from every player and we look to carry this play through to the rest of the season, with a belief we can take on the higher teams in our division. With better luck, we can hopefully start turning these sorts of games into wins!
Overall, every single L3s player was on form today: MoM votes came in for Jasmine (great attacking play); Emma (fab defending); Louise (some great saves); Hayley (fantastic play throughout). It was Lauren Coates who won out – she was everywhere in her role as sweeper/centre half, totaling controlling the game, making brilliant connections. I’m afraid to report that I was voted LoM for being a little bit stroppy and having a potty mouth when “discussing” whether the ball (which went on to become City’s winning goal in the last second) had gone out of play.
Another cracking week for the L4s. Laura had a staggering thirty-seven players to organise, with half venturing off to St Ives and half playing the league game.
The match started with a stark warning from Ania - there had been a worm invasion over night, potentially leading to ‘slippery conditions’ on the pitch. Luckily everyone took this on board with just the two injuries (neither of which are thought to have been worn-related!)
Enough about worms…
The L4s are getting stronger with each game and put up a great fight against Cambridge City (third in the league). We had a strong first half, ending two-one (with a lovely goal from Jess). The second half saw countless shots on goal, particularly from Jess - whose notable quote was, ‘Any chance we could move the goal a foot to the left?’ Unfortunately the umpires didn’t oblige.
This week saw a strong formation, with votes for MoM going to Polly and Ania, who were pipped to the (stationary) post by Jess. Jess also managed to secure her first LoM for South for finishing most of her shots on goal on the floor!
We gave City a good run for their money, and overall had more shots on goal - that pesky post!
This game leaves us exactly in the middle of the league. There’s definitely a strong chance we can maintain our stamina and inch up over the next few games.
We set off a little apprehensively from Long Road, after losing our only sub to the home game, but arrived at St Ives in good spirits, even after an unexpected stop at a rather strange bus service station on the A14.
The match started with good energy, despite Liz’s protests about pushing the ball to the opposition first in a friendly. We managed to keep possession of the ball, integrating Bhav’s excellent training by using the space and passing around the back of the St Ives players.
Zara proved that being a goalie really is in her genes with some fantastic saves. Paired with a solid defence, South prevented St Ives from scoring up to half time.
Despite our best efforts to keep our energy going in the second half we began to tire, resulting in St Ives managing to put three balls past the defence and Zara.
Although the score might suggest otherwise, we found the match to be very well balanced with the St Ives team giving us praise. Overall the game was very positive and came away with some great pointers to work on during training.
Shout out to Jan for volunteering to umpire; without him we wouldn’t have been able to play. Thank you!
The MoM vote clearly goes to Zara for stepping forward to keep for us and for her cracking saves.
LoM goes to myself for turning off the A14 too early and ending up in a deserted bus service station, having to do some off-roading and going around in circles before finding the exit.