So it turns out that games away in Norwich have not been that good for South this season. In a roller-coaster game, we weren't quite able to pull Dragons back to a five-all draw after a slow and sloppy start put us tw—nil down after around fifteen minutes. Credit to the opposition who stretched the pitch and got behind our defence on a number of times to score some simple but well worked goals.
Across the pitch there were some moments of brilliance and high quality play, James running the midfield, Harry L causing trouble up top and I was pleased to clear two off the line in the first half to keep us in it.
Oddly, three of our four goals came from a series of different shorties:
James with a second-time reverse stick shot after a good save, proving that practice does make perfect after quite a few drills on Tuesday evenings,
Joel with a strong slap off the top of the D to beat the player on the line, and
Pearson with a super drag flick to draw us back to three-four (behind) and give a small window of hope for a draw or win.
The big moment came towards the end of the game, when I latched onto a deflection from a shorty, only to play a one-two off the defender’s body and then follow up into the goal. Was it a goal, was it a flick…? Flick. There goes my hopes for a second brilliant goal in my South career to date (more on that below). Pearson duly converted the flick (top corner) and although we pushed hard for the last two minutes to find an equaliser, it wasn't to be.
Another high pressure game next week as Nomads travel a few miles for the local derby. I expect Joel will already be quite excited.
It would be rude of me not to mention some of the squad's excellent maths work on the drive to Norwich. Shame, however, I didn't get the goal which would have significantly improved my chances of retiring before my 400th birthday. P.S. For any mathematicians, please don't criticise the following as there are some assumptions…
Number of goals scored by Stu R in South career to date = 1.
Number of games played before this one = 96.
Time (in games) which I could reasonably expect to play before I score 100 goals based on current run-rate = 9600 games.
Assuming I play ~60 minutes on average per match, that will be 9600 hours of hockey to reach 100 goals, /24 hours = 400 days of hockey. Alternatively, assuming 22 games per season, 9600 games = 436 seasons = about 460 years. Incidentally this is also how old Paresh's hockey stick is and the expected time Dave Aston may well need before his game improves.
All credit (none is due) to Harry C and team for their calculations…
Before we get to the match we’ll start with training. This is a little abnormal but given that I was the only member from the Men’s 2s to show up to training, it falls to me to let them know what they missed.
Drill 1: 2 v 2 with a floating player:
- Small area coned off.
- Two players in bibs, two players without bibs, one player in a different coloured bib.
The idea is very simple: the floating player is always on the side of the team with the ball. The team without the ball has to gain possession. Once in possession they try to retain the ball for as long as possible. Given the floating player is always on the team with the ball then there is a constant 3 v 2, so the defending team needs to close the ball carrier down and intercept passes/force errors.
Rating 4 out of 5:
- Good intensity.
- Meant you have to pre-scan.
- Players on the ball have to get into space.
Drill 2: 2 v 1:
- One defender at the top of the D.
- Two parallel lines of attackers on the 23 facing the goal.
One of the attackers passes the ball to the defender. The ball then gets bounced back out, starting a classic two-on-one with the aim to score.
Rating 4 out of 5:
- Meant communication between the attackers had to be good.
- Important movement off the ball.
- Hard work for the defender.
Drill 3: 3 v 2:
- Two defenders at the top of the D.
- Two parallel lines of attackers on the 23 facing the goal.
- Another attacker stood in front of the defenders.
One of the attackers passes the ball to the attacker at the top of the D. This starts the attack and a three-on-two with the aim to score.
Rating 4.5 out of 5:
- More attackers meant we were looking for deflections.
- Built up communication between the defenders.
- Both attackers and defenders working in a unit.
Drill 4: 3 v 2 from halfway:
- Two defenders on the 23.
- Two parallel lines of attackers on the halfway line facing the goal.
- Another attacker stood in front of the defenders.
The drill is the same as above.
Rating 3.5 out of 5:
- Not many scored.
- Good for fitness.
- Replicates a break in actual match play.
Then the snow started to fall. It was super-romantic and lovely.
If what is documented above is something that interests you, training happens most Tuesdays at 7:30 to 9:30. This all takes place at Long Road, where there is ample parking.
See ya there?
12th minute, Kettering scored.
14th minute, Walshy impersonated Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final, only without the headbutt, and correctly got a card.
20th minute, Kettering scored.
30th minute, Menzies scored (deflection at short corner).
58th minute, Walshy scored (team worked ball into the D, nice finish).
60th minute, I got upset with someone, got a card, threw my stick out my pram, upgraded a green to a yellow, looked like an idiot. (The event closely resembled Greg Rusedski in Wimbledon 2003).
70+1th minute, Puddles scores (a short corner; Anns didn’t air-shot, nice tap in on the line from Puddles).
This Saturday the M3s had their strongest squad of the season so far and it needed to be against division leaders, Long Sutton.
The signs were promising. South had a strong first ten with the majority of the possession and attacking moves. Long Sutton couldn't pass through the South midfield but used their aerial ball to good effect with some fast breaks putting South under pressure.
Beyond the first ten the cracks started to show. Strong individual skills saw Long Sutton score three in the first half from open play and a well worked short corner routine. The first half finished three-nil to the visitors.
The second half was a more open affair with the ball pinging from one end of the pitch to the other. South lacked composure and killer instinct in the final twenty-three despite some half chances. Long Sutton's attacks still looked dangerous but South's defence was up to the challenge and held Long Sutton to a second half goalless draw.
Adam narrowly took MoM honours for his unwavering defence.
George's antics earned him another LoM but his captain's pity saved him from match report writing duty.
The M4 team from Cambridge South
Spent all day on the road to Louth
Despite a resounding performance they lost five nil
But the hardest thing to swallow was the bitter pill
When John Gourd got a green for too much mouth
He carried on whinging and was asked to stop
By the home umpire in a yellow top
The irony of this card
Was that our Lemon had been trying hard
To encourage all fellow players not to strop
The journey was ninety-six miles
Leather seats not helping Oli’s piles
But the conversation was good
Probably coarser than it should
But we arrived on time with cramp but lots of smiles
At half time we were four goals down
And Captain Jan addressed the squad with no frown
We can pull this around was his call
If we get all eleven men behind the ball
Nelson Tang was our hero in goal
His saves dug us out of many a hole
Without him it could have been ten
He kept thwarting the Lincolnshire men
MoM Phil played with passion and grit
Without him (and Andy) the game would have been forfeit
We had some chances to score
And pick ourselves up from the floor
But JJ’s flick from a short was inches away
And Paul’s deflection the Louth keeper kept at bay
Louth were a wonderful team
Some of their play was an absolute dream
They’re much too good for our league
But we kept them at bay despite our growing fatigue
We lost the second half one zero
We played as a team, each of us a hero
There’s a lot to take from the game
Next week we need more of the same
The pasta tea was one of the best by far
Only spoilt by the lack of a bar
The prospect of the journey home made us weep
But before long most of us were asleep
The drivers carried a heavy load
But got us safely back to Long Road
Back at Fortress Long Road this week for the return leg against fourth in the table St Ives 4s, with an opportunity to build on last weekend's spirited performance against Nomads and with a team strengthened by 4s' guests, Stu C, Pete D and Rob B.
A characteristically strong start from the home team, pressing the St Ives defence immediately from the push-back, led to Howard S receiving the ball on the edge of the D and firing it into Rob B, positioned perfectly to deflect the ball into the visitors' goal. Alas, the deflection was deemed to have come from a defender's stick. Goal disallowed.
The South team continued to press hard, creating scoring opportunities for Alan R, Simon T and Rob B. The 5s' defence were solid throughout the half, except for one small lapse of concentration that allowed one of the St Ives youngsters to break through and slip the ball past keeper Micheal G to a teammate waiting on the far post, who buried the ball in the South net. One-nil at half time; this felt very familiar!
The second half started in much the same way as the first had finished, with both teams playing with intensity. Another breakthrough from the St Ives attack prompted a spectacular save from the South keeper, with the ball ending up underneath him. Not wishing to give away a penalty he quickly rolled away, leaving the ball free to be scooped up by a waiting St Ives player and tapped past the grounded keeper. This was now feeling even more familiar!
It wasn't long before the home team struck back. Stu C battled his way into the contested opposition D and managed to pull the ball back to Simon T at the far post, who fired it into the back of the net. Once again this seemed to spur the home team on in much the same way it had seven days earlier in the Nomads match, and led to several opportunities to grab the all—important equaliser, but alas we were beaten again by the clock. On the positive side we can chalk this up as another strong and spirited performance which will undoubtedly bring us the victories we deserve if we can keep it up!
MoM on the day was Stu C for bamboozling the opposition with his stick and ball skills, but there has to also be a collective MoM for Phil H and Andy T for making the three-day expedition to Louth with the M4s; Steve Browne for stepping down to reduce numbers; and John G for still being injured!
LoM was unanimously awarded to Rupert E for his attempted aerial that succeeded in going feet foot upwards into the air rather than any distance forwards!
Saturday brought St Ives 1s to us for our second meeting of the season, as well as Graham to Cambridge from the other side of the world. The first lesson of the day was that socks and sandals are not warm enough for a sideline manager to maintain comfort and focus.
With a big squad we hoped for big things. We set the ball rolling in the right direction with two cracking goals from Laura and Katie in the first half. We were using good ball pace and communication to make the most of our nifty movement and were timing passes effectively. Katie was having a solid game going forward and, with Robyn running all over, South looked to be in a strong position.
Our defence were holding strong in the D and were doing well to fend off the multitude of attacks from St Ives. Kim had two strong stops at the top of our D when running out fast from short corners, the first taking her stick flying as the ball came thundering in. Loopy was on fire and kept strong both on and off the ground. Hannah was displaying her usually high pace and setting the ball moving for the forwards. Maddie was getting those 50/50 balls and intercepting their play.
With a few moments of miss-communication (new Maddie and me tackling each other at the top of the D) we gave away a short and conceded a goal. Not long after, the same thing happened again!
We continued to fight the good fight but some of our jazz feet were getting left behind. Not even by putting my body on the line could we get back into the game and with the second fall I secured myself Lemon of the match. Blythe however took on my approach with more success, with great use of her stomach/boobs in some brilliant goalline defence. Shout out to Loopy for a great show and being our MoM. All in all, a solid game but sadly a four-two loss.
Sorry for any not mentioned - no vote, no mention!
We arrived at Coldhams Common with pride in our hearts and victory in our sights. Nomads’ Ladies 2s were the challenge we faced. The game started with both teams in full force but before long, seven minutes to be precise, Harriet fired a hard pass to Izzy, who stylishly slipped it to Sarah waiting near the edge of the D, who pushed the ball to the right of the goalie. One-nil to South! Nomads quickly came back fighting with an equaliser. South, having had most of the possession at this point in the match (trying to get the ball in the goal), won a short corner. An injection from Flo to Flix resulted in a strike past the Nomads’ keeper. Two-one to South.
Once again, Nomads come back fighting and got a goal. Two-all. Frustrated, South got the ball back into the Nomads’ D and won a short corner. A beautiful little set play by South: injected to Izzy, slipped to Sarah, and then passed back to Izzy on the P spot who chipped it through the Nomads’ keeper’s legs and into the net. Simply beautiful! We went into half time three-two up. The first half was not one of our finest performances. After a regroup and motivational words from the captaincy team, we started again.
Upon deciding that three-two was not a satisfactory result, we won another short. Izzy stepped up and put a straight strike past the Nomads’ defence. Once again it’s in the back of the goal for South: four-two! With the defenders holding the back solidly and the mids running their socks off, we kept pressing on. Jess, in a joint Man of the Match winning performance, held the centre and kept tight on Nomads’ speedy centre-mid to keep her out of the game.
A long ball made its way through to Hannah who was waiting in the D. With some awesome skill she nicely slotted it left, past the keeper. We were now five-two up and feeling good. The passing was fluid and we were playing well. A long ball from Izzy to Eimear, a drive into the D and a slap past the keeper (there may or may not have been a deflection off a defender’s foot) made it six-two to South. Goal number seven was an absolute corker, courtesy of Flo. A tomahawk from an impossibly tight angle sailed past the keeper to make it seven-two. To finish the game off in wonderful hockey style, we won a short corner and Izzy (to round off her join Man of the Match winning performance) casually drag flicked the ball to the left of the keeper. Eight-two and time for teas.
Impressively, Nomads fought to the bitter end. One last minute attack from Nomads caused Louise to have to make a very impressive save off the tip of her stick.
There were a number of contenders for Lemon this week; Jenny had a sit down in the first half, H nearly forgot to drop the dog off at her mum's house, Rebecca couldn't find the changing room, Flo's stick almost snapped in half during the warm up and Louise was half an hour late. Sarah however just pipped the Lemon votes by trying to start the game with a bib still on.
Overall another fantastic result and an eight-two win in the bag! Bring on the next game!
Lauren B donned the captain’s armband in the absence of Laurie. This meant that the usual pre-match team talk was shorter and went along the lines of, “This is a game we can win – let’s go and win it.”. Armed with the usual coloured subbing strategy (oh wait, that was missing!) we went into battle, in less than perfect playing conditions.
Laurie had issued instructions, asking us to aim for a clean sheet and play a tight, well defended game with good communication. OK, challenge accepted!
South took the pushback and were immediately on the charge, with superb interplay between the midfield and attackers down the right flank which resulted with us in their D and the first shot at goal within fifteen seconds. This pressure continued relentlessly throughout the first half. There were excellent runs from Zara and Erin, stretching the play down the flanks to try to take advantage of the speed we have in the team to get round a solid St Neots backline. The ball was transferred sublimely by the midfield with Rhi and the Red Scarfed Diva Louisa (weren’t you told to remove that last week?) finding the South runners on frequent occasions. Time and time again the ball entered the D but unfortunately not into the net. The defence, expertly martialled by Lauren E, had little to do but when called upon snuffed out any potential attacks; in fact most of the team spent their time in the opposing half. The first half ended nil-nil due to St Neots’ resolute defence.
The start of the second half was very similar to the first, with South on the attack again. The ball was transferred from left, through the middle to the right and back once again into the D but again, no joy. This was repeated numerous times until, with a break down the left wing, the ball was passed to Emily who moved the ball to Zara, who hit it superbly past the keeper and into the net. One-nil to South.
As St Neots tried to get back into the game, Ani and Emma intercepted any balls that came their way, and often expertly passed to the midfield link players to be pushed forward again.
There were a number of chances before the second goal resulted from a great strike from Rhi from a ridiculous angle. It was so acute that it took ages for the umpire (Adam) to confirm the goal because he couldn’t believe that anyone could score from that angle. Two–nil to South.
St Neots didn’t give up. Their best chances came from two short corners; the first was charged down by Charlotte and the second went past the post. But that was it. The game ended with South at the other end of the field.
This was an excellent team performance with MoM nominations for Rhi, Zara, Grace, Emma & Charlotte. However the winner was Rhi for her fantastic goal, with Zara unfortunate to miss out by one vote. Strangely enough Rhi also was LoM for a diva strop (watch out for the competition, Louisa!) Even more surprising is that South’s latest centurion, Lauren B, has never actually been awarded LoM - you could teach Rhi a thing or two.
Final score two-nil - the captain's wishes were truly accomplished.
We began this week with Bhav’s words ringing in our ears: ‘I don’t expect you to win.’ With many of the squad playing at home for the first time in weeks, it was already a boost to be in the familiar setting of Long Road. There was another solid line up, with plenty of subs for a our now regular 2-3-2-3 formation.
As the game kicked off energy levels were high, with the L4s getting deep into the Bury half right from the early stages of the game. We passed together well, and with Ginny, Katie, Ania and Sarah in defence any threatening balls were soon well cleared. It wasn’t long until Jess slotted her first goal against the backboard putting it to one-nil and giving us all the feeling that this game could go in our favour.
The Bury side must have sensed our building momentum, with Nicole, Elaine, Polly and Annabel passing and running around them in our midfield with the confidence and skill. The spooked opposition soon slipped up and gave away a short which, following a strong injection from Zara, saw the ball struck from Jess’ stick, clip the keeper’s right hand and fly into the back of the net. Unfortunately, our celebration was short lived after an umpiring lesson reminded us all that it must hit the backboard first to count – so the score was left at one-nil.
By half time we were full of beans and enjoying the game, and keen to get the result our play warranted come the end of the match. One-nil was fantastic but left us vulnerable enough to have a few butterflies as we kicked off again. The defence worked tirelessly as per, and Katie regularly fed the ball to Sammy, who sent it bang down the line with precision every time creating some great chances. A few bumpy encounters with the opposition from Jess and Zara, and rumours that Tess and Ginny were tackling each other, were the only signs of South getting scrappy. Most of the play – particularly by Annabel – saw any intercepted balls fought back for with gusto.
Playing high and wide, as instructed by Bhav, saw some truly fabulous hockey from the whole team work to get the ball to our vice-captain, Harriet, who sent the ball wide to Tess for her to cross it straight to Jess at the goal line, who after a quick scuffle got our second goal of the game: two-nil. With a few minutes to go and the end in sight, we were still goal-hungry, and Cat continued to perform some stellar runs into the Bury half and was unlucky not to score this week. The minutes ticked down and by the final whistle we were thrilled to get the three points from the team above us in the league and prove our glorious leader Bhav wrong!
The L4s have been slowly but surely increasing in quality this season, and we’re chuffed with the result this week (hence the long and not so modest match report). Fingers crossed this form will continue – but even if it doesn’t, we will keep having as much fun playing together as we did in this game.