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.