Working hard in midfield and being a general star
In contrast to the glorious sunshine at St Ives last week, it was an extremely wet and miserable Saturday for the first of several upcoming Cambridge derby matches for the L2s. In the dryness of the changing rooms we heard from Grace and Rebecca all about how St Ives’s pitch-induced hand scabs are more problematic in everyday life than knee scabs. Even putting on one’s shin guards can cause the newest layer of skin to fall off again; lovely. In a further bruise update, Izzy didn’t have a bruise from a close encounter with Lucy’s stick at training on Thursday and Eimear’s bruise is almost gone.
After the chit chat, the L2s got down to their new focused pre-match routine and concentrated on hockey (for the most part). We’d seen the results so far in the league and were up for a high intensity game against a City 5s line up that was showing better form and results this year than in previous seasons.
The game started quite evenly with both teams working hard despite the rainy conditions. Some breaks through midfield for both sides started to emerge but little was made of them as each side tested the other while trying not to slip on the newly water-based pitch! The water level may have contributed to some interesting tumbles and rolls by Eimear on the far right touch line. The tipping point came when Dani A started slotting home the first two of her three. The first goal came from a beautiful hit from Izzy at top D which Dani A got a lovely touch to and directed into the back left of the goal. The second came not long afterwards with a really well-worked goal that started around the South back line and then up the line where it was crossed in from the left of the pitch to the right of top D, where once again Izzy crossed to Dani A who finished it nicely to make it two-nil.
After this, South settled a little, took control of the game and started to manage the run of play to create even more scoring chances. Ellie, Lucy and the newly returned for the season, H, managed the backline superbly for another clean sheet, with smooth and controlled passes around the back feeding the ball through the City attack to our mids. The goals came with a pleasing regulatory from then on out. Hannah scored her first South goal with a lovely deflection on a shot from Izzy to the right of the D to make it three-nil. Shortly before half time and from another nice South break up the left wing, Eimear got the ball from Izzy just left of top D put it in the top right corner to make it four-nil at the break.
Half time jelly babies were very quickly consumed through chattering teeth. Following a brief chat with Paul we lined back out ASAP in the rain, ready to go as the rain continued to fall with the wind picking up and blowing it back into our faces. Shiver. However sorry the players felt for themselves, appreciation is certainly due to the brave spectators, to Paul for coaching and to the umpires.
The second half saw even more of an improvement of the style of South’s play, with greater fluidity and confidence in our linking play and closing down of City’s attack. More lovely stick to stick passes around the back and up around the wings using our width and layers to create more attacking opportunities. Rebecca was sending some lovely balls through up front to chase, Jess was working hard in the centre to secure the ball and Grace and Sarah really pushed themselves to win and keep the ball. Lauren started the game as sweeper and showed her versatility by finishing the game playing right forward. Vicky, on her L2s debut, had a relatively quiet game as our defensive line kept most threats at bay. Some City short corners were quickly closed down and cleared by our runners from goal. When called on to make a save in a one-on-one situation, Vicky calmly came out and smothered that chance to deny a shot.
Goals five and six came from short corners with Jess W scoring from almost the right baseline and getting it round the City keeper. Dani A completed her hat-trick with a beautiful strike straight to the back left of the goal, hitting the backboard with a real thud. There were a couple of instances of scrambled play around the City goal, one of which resulted in a second tumble by Eimear while clashing with a City player in an effort to avoid Jan as umpire (sorry, Jan!). The final goal came from one such scramble occasion where Eimear from the P spot put it to the right corner; seven-nil.
It was a game of seventy minutes of high intensity hockey from South, despite the rain, and a team performance to be proud of. A mark of the real team performance was the diversity of Man of the Match votes, split across several players including Dani A, Grace, Lucy, Izzy, Eimear, Jess, Ellie and Lauren. Ultimately Grace won for generally working hard all game, holding the play, controlling distribution in midfield and great short corner injections.
A good result for South and a fun game played in the spirit of good natured friendly competition, with both home side and opposition bonded by the driving rain. Lemony lemoning was Eimear’s fate this week for diving acrobatics. Luckily, as we are told, all L2s are a 10/10 team so one has to make an effort even when tumbling around on the pitch.