As the season rolls towards its end, South L3s travelled to play Ely City 3s for our penultimate league game. There was a sense of déjà vu in the air for the team, having already made the journey to Ely back in January only to have the game called off due to a flooded pitch.
The last time these two teams met, when South were at home back in October, the game saw South take the win ten-nil, so the team went into the game with the instructions from captain Laurie to get three points, make the number of league victories seventeen from seventeen, and keep a clean sheet.
With the signs of the season coming towards its end, the team began their warm-up with lots of exclamations of sore legs, stiffness and being hungover. The team began to practice their shorts, with Lauren caught snoozing on one occasion much to everyone’s amusement, and Kath requiring some on-pitch physio from Jess L before the game started. She dropped to the ground to have her legs stretched, only to very quickly exclaim, "Oooh, it’s wetter down ’ere than I thought!" This brief exclamation of discomfort made Kath worthy of LoM.
The first half began with Laurie choosing to shoot towards the club house and the bumpy D. Straight away, South were fast on the ball and quick to dominate possession, passing the ball nicely around the pitch and using the switchback to its optimum. But the team were soon to realise that Ely were going to play very defensively and put at least five players in the D at all times, making a wall for the team to break through to score.
After lots of great play around the team to move the ball up the pitch, South were eventually able to score through Tuffers ‘whacking it in.’ A second was soon to follow from Jess L, who managed to carry out a lovely hit towards the left post that deflected off the defender into the back of the net. The first half continued with South having most of the possession and making lots of attempts on goal through Kath, Tuffers, Lou, Jess W, Jess L and Lauren only to find the Ely five-player-row of defence solid. With several short corners awarded, South struggled to get their next goal as the Ely defence stayed strong. Some would say that Ely almost played with a second goalie. Just before half time, South were awarded another short corner and Tuffers managed to spot a slight change in the run out of the Ely defence and scored a lovely straight strike. The first half ended three-one.
With a super-long half-time break, after a discussion about how we could press Ely’s 16s better, Janette keenly stepping up to take one for the team standing at the front of the press and some very motivating words from Loopy, the second half began. South continued as we had left off in the first half, with lots of possession, and were soon to gain our fourth goal through a lovely strike from Tuffers. South continued to win most of the possession and battled the tough, slippery and sandy pitch conditions to score a further four goals through Lou (x3) and Jess W (apologies for the lack of detail on these goals; I cannot remember how they were scored). Ely managed to make a couple of breaks into our defensive half but were met by the strength of the back three, Sarah, Maria and Meg, who were quick to secure the ball and utilise the switch out wide to Hayley, Laurie and Janette. She might have been out of her usual position but Janette had a cracking game, holding her position on the left and managing to lead the press, regularly regaining possession of the ball. A very worthy MOM performance.
Overall another three points, a clean sheet and a seventeenth league win for South L3s, with lots of good hockey played by all and Loopy managing to not touch the ball for the whole game.