FIRSTS TAKE DOWN SURBITON
Surbiton's last loss was at the hands of Leicester in 2014, a sensational 53 game unbeaten run was halted by Leicester this weekend as they snatched a win in the dying seconds of the home fixture.
Surbiton were severely depleated, missing seven players on England duty on tour in South Africa, something Leicester know all too well from seasons gone by but on this occasion only Kathryn Lane was missing from the side taking on top of the league. Surbiton's depth and class could not be disputed however with many of the players taking up the mantle having been involved in the international set up at one time or another.
Leicester started off strongly and dominated the first fifteen minutes with a strength and urgency the fans on the sideline were delighted to see. Surbiton had a couple of chances in the first few minutes but Leicester forced a short corner in the eighth minute of the game which Maddie Newlyn calmly slotted home from the top of the D to put Leicester ahead early.
The next twenty minutes were feisty with the umpires repeatedly calling for players to calm down. Chances came at both ends including a shot agonisingly wide of the Leicester posts for former Leicester player Beckie Middleton (known as Herbie to Leicester). Katie Long scored another cracker from open play calming slotting the ball passed the keeper one the left post, an leaving spirits high ahead of the half time break.
Despite Surbiton appearing knocked by being down two goals they showed their quality by both securing and scoring a short corner two minutes from half time, their second of the game.
The rain started to come down and the wind picked up in the second half making conditions difficult but both sides ramped it up and continued the first half momentum.
Ten minutes into the second half Georgie Twigg, Rio medal winner, fired the ball into the D and Julia King put a great touch on the ball to deflect it passed keeper Caitlin Jeffries and into the back of the net, the come back was on.
Scores even tensions rose and the Umpires again had to keep the game calm which included two green cards and temporary suspensions handed to Surbiton players.
The game was to close in dramatic fashion as Leicester ramped up the pressure to secure a short corner in the last minute. The initial play awarded Leicester a second short corner after Katie Long had put the ball passed the line after the whistle has gone. The second routine saw the ball slipped left to Rachel Mack who drove towards the baseline and fired a reverse stick shot the keeper was unable to get hold of. Both sides had time to set up for the restart but the final whistle sounded seconds later. The sideline and players erupted, a fantastic hard fought game by both sides with Leicester coming out on top over the depleted Surbiton side 3-2.
Leicester hold their sixth place league position and are just two points off a play-off place.
1-0 loss to University of Birmingham Women's 2nd
Next fixture is against Harbourne at home 15:30 pushback
THIRDS FRUSTRATED TO DRAW
Leicester 3 - 3 Loughborough students 5s
Leicester again travelled to Loughborough and all managed to make it, well almost Rachel had some directional issues and ended up at Leicester Grammar... not sure how.
The game began with both teams trying to work each other and the pitch out. It would be the students who drew first blood with a quick counter spotting the ball home. 0-1. Leicester would not be out done though quickly working themselves back into the game. The ball was moved around the midfield of Annie, Nat and Ellie C and threaded through to an unmarked Karen who found herself in ample space to slot the ball past the keeper to make it 1-1. Leicester continued to move the ball well and Loughborough's chances came more from the away sides mistakes than creation of their own. Loughborough would take an opportunity given to them to make it 1-2 but only after a bouncing ball couldn't quite but picked on the edge of the circle.
Leicester would continue to knock on the door of Loughborough's circle and through brilliant wing play by Tilly and Abi with Tilly breaking behind Loughborough's line and missing the far post from an acute angle by inches.
With 10 to go before the Half the game was finely in the Balance with possession being shared between both side and pressuring both circles. Leicester defensive line of Ellie L, Elsbeth and Etta stood strong and when the students did break through meg used all the body to block the ball. Even the bits which didn't have padding, which we can confirm does hurt judging by the loudness of the scream.
The second half would have the mirror score line of the first. Leicester began the brighter of the 2 sides pressing the circle hard with rachel and Karen pressing the Loughborough back line into mistake and missing the goal by small margins. The pressure began to tell when a ball through from midfield by Molly led to their keeper leaving the circle to clear with her foot, meaning Loughborough would be without a keeper for 5. Annie would step up and shot home a Penalty corner in this time, with only minutes left before she would have to go bridesmaid dress shopping.... on a Saturday...!
Leicester continued to press and would grab a 3rd with 10 minutes left to go, after some great individual skill by hephzibah another PC was given, which was worked to ruby from the injection to slot home to make it 3-2.
The final 8 minute were tight with few chances between the 2 sides. Loughborough's 3rd goal was a matter of millimetres. The students broke with 4 against Leicester's 2 defenders, who slowed the attack brilliantly allowing another 4 defenders to get back. After a double save and a scramble in the circle the ball hit a Loughborough stick and looked to be sneaking into the corner of the goal before Etta flew across and cleared with what looked to be the edge of her stick but was deemed to be the back! The flick was given, 1v1, whistle blew, player chooses bottom right and just snuck it in despite a touch!
Leicester went again with Tilly again finding herself in space! Behind the Loughborough line but her cross was just to strong for Elsbeth on the back post!
Final score 3-3.
Squad: Abi Hart, Annie Wiffen, Ellie Copeland, Ellie Lineham, Elsbeth Woodgate, Etta Magill, Hepzhibah Smalley-Kaspruk, Karen Barnes, Megan Lowe (GK), Molly Edwards, Nat Gear, Rachel East, Ruby Barham, Tilly Johnson
Next game is at home to Loughborough Students Fourths, pushback 10:30
Match Report 4XI vs Loughborough Town
Just 1 week after losing against Loughborough Town, the 4XI were facing off against the most physical side in the league again. This group of predominantly U14 and U16 ninjas however were not going to be intimidated. Warpaint on, bandana’s followed and kitted up, I noticed Juliette was swinging her stick like a katana before the game, they strode out onto the pitch.
The defence was missing a few from the close defeat the week before but with Gemma marshalling at the back, Ros and Hollie stepped into the breach determined to battle as much as possible. They did this superbly for 15 minutes, Ros in particular I felt looked the part and was having a great half. Having been involved in her development as a hockey player since she was in nappies, its great to see her regaining some confidence in her undoubted ability. We had conceded only one goal, from a short corner and were continuing where we left off from the previous week.
As I sat down, relaxing in my gillet, all hell broke loose. Hollie, making a break for freedom down the right hand side of the pitch hit the deck. Stifled giggles from her sister and boyfriend followed. I was of course horrified, you are all aware of how much I dislike injuries and violence in general on the hockey pitch. Everyone simply stopped and watched, Hollie was clearly in pain. 20 minutes later Trem, umpiring for the game, felt it was only right we made some effort to check on her. She had been mewing for a while and it seemed sensible. What we needed were a couple of strong individuals to help carry her off the pitch. Anna K and Katie didn’t seem keen. So we made her crawl 20 yards instead.
With the defence needing a reorganisation, Katie was asked to step in at left back. I say she pouted at the thought, she tells me she didn’t. I am, as always, right. However, her and Anna did a great job in positions they would not normally ask to play in. Sami, making her debut this season, slotted in in the middle and alongside Ros and Gemma, they continued to be first to every ball, never stopped working and made real nuisances of themselves.
A couple of goals were conceded before half time, but I am going to focus, rather more, on the go forward the team has started to develop in the last 5 or so weeks. Defensively, its always a team effort but there are glimpses of some real quality moving the ball up the pitch. This quality bodes so well for next season and they should be really proud of all their efforts. Emily K (pace, passing and willingness to get up and down the pitch throughout the game), Juliette (my all action hero – by the end of the game half the Loughborough side were ready to kill her), Anna C (the sides primary go forward in most games this season and the team joker, never stops grinning!!), Jennifer (team captain, the golden oldie of the side and the main driver of effort and desire for the side) , and Elise (she may run a little like bambi but does all the basics brilliantly and I think will develop into an exceptional passing midfielder).
Kerry in goal was immense, her sweeping behind the defence was particularly impressive. She pulled off some stunning saves and at times kept the scoreline manageable.
At half time, new targets were set. Win the second half, concede less than 3 goals and walk away moral victors. Particularly pleasing to see the team take ownership for this target and the second half.
Shortly after, I departed to taxi Hollie to hospital. For your information, its official she is not dead and was faking the injury. She is dropped for the rest of the season…end of. She has also stolen her shirt. Shocking behaviour!
In my mind, while driving around Leicester, the second half was a stroll in the park. Loughborough never got going, we were superb and conceded no more goals. I am delighted to report that’s pretty much the feedback I got on my return to the ground. Conceding only 2 more goals and losing the game 6-0. Its all about development, all about these young ladies learning how hockey is played, learning to pass and move before slotting into the upper echelons of the club. Trem was very pleased with the effort, composure and talent on the pitch. It is great to hear others appreciating the obvious bright future this group of players have.
So who is left?? Two players who will probably leave the pitch frustrated. However, defence starts from the front, effort starts from the front and Kate and Abi optimised that all game. Opportunities were always going to be few and far between but everyone appreciates all that hard work, but limited reward.
I heard after the game that Juliette:
a. was made player of the match (Again!!!)
b. had insisted on heading the ball midway through the second half.
So for that stupidity I am removing the accolade from her. She has won it too many times anyway and it is getting boring. I am going to give it to Gemma, she demonstrated, throughout the half I saw (she may have been garbage in the second half), the little bit of game sense that the rest of us need to continue to develop. She just does the simple things very well. Defenders rarely get player of the match awards, hugely unfair as without them you generally lose.
And so onto Sunday
Next game is against Half Century away 14:30 pushback
"LET'S GET PHYSICAL"
Remember Olivia Newton-John warbling those words and adding "I wanna hear your body talk, body talk". Well that was the refrain of Market Harborough 3rds on Saturday as they looked to knock (literally) our 5ths off their stride. Given that around 50% of our side are U14s, that came across as a little harsh and even the normally smiling Clare Slater got riled. Clare's body talked a pretty good talk throughout but especially when firing Leicester ahead midway through the first half.
Leicester's youngsters were taking a bit of a buffeting with the umpires trying to keep the game flowing but we still managed to carve out several chances. The exuberant Dee Hardwick was in fine form in Harborough's goal and we had a bit of a tendency to shoot straight at her. We earned and spurned several penalty corners and the half ended 1-0 to our 5ths.
After a stirring half-time exchange, largely featuring Clare, we again took the battle to Harborough. Chances came and went. A great move saw Chiara Bensi cut to the back line to play an inch-perfect pass to captain Lucy Pears but her big swing saw her stick arrive a day early (or was it a day late?) and the chance was missed. Clare hit a post from a penalty corner and Gaynor Nash fired in a high flick only to see a Harborough defender produce an amazing goal-line save with her stick above her head. Eventually a second goal arrived with Nash finishing off a penalty corner move with a fierce drive.
Sarah Levy, Alex Peet, Emma Sleeman and Frankie Hillyer covered acres of ground in midfield and Chiara, Lucy, Libby Haward, Caitlin Pittham and Hattie Lester worked tirelessly up front. In goal Charlotte Parker had little to do but dealt well with the few chances made by Harborough.
One interesting talking point in the game was the fact that one Harborough defender kept unintentionally undercutting the ball. She must have done it ten times. Each time the ball was not adjudged to be dangerous until our coach pointed out that allowing such poor skill to persist only meant she was an accident waiting to happen. After that she was pulled up and then went off. In all other respects she played very well. Umpires out there, what would you do if this kept happening in a game at this level?
So, in the end a hard-fought 2-0 win and next we face a very tough match against Harborough 2nds. Hopefully they'll opt for a different O N-J number, Xanadu maybe?
Next game wil be Market Harborough seconds at home 12:00 pushback
Rearraged Third vs Fourths fixture
CLOSER THAN IT LOOKS
Leicesters 3s 6 - 0 leicester 4s
The second match in as many days for both sides would result in a very good game from both the spectators and coaches point of view and the score line does not reflect the game that well. Whilst the 3s would run out winners the young (and older) players in the 4s put up a fight!
The game began with the 3s on top and moving the ball around reasonably well, but played largely down the middle of the pitch through Molly, Hannah and Annie. Both sides had opportunities with the 3s testing the strength of the 4s defence 3/4 times early on in the game and the 4s showing good breakaway skills to test the leicester backline and force Meg into a couple of early save. With the game finely matched at 0-0 the first goal would be crucial and it would turn out to be the 3s. A well worked move down the l left hand side, between Ellie L and Annie left Abi H in a large amount of space, her and Annie interchanged passes and played the ball to the back post for Abi to deflect home. 1-0. The 4ths would not be deterred though, showing tenacity in the midfield battling hard to win the ball. The 3s second goal would come with 10 to come in the half. Another good piece of play down the play down the left this time between Gemma and Etta gave Hannah space at the top of the circle, who nearly placed the ball into the corner. Her celebration and insistence on letting the bench know she had scored was evident. The 3s final chance of the half fell to Elsbeth who found herself at the back post unmarked off a cross, all she had to do was connect with the ball.... but instead connected with the keepers pads!
The second half would be played under flood lights and the 4ths took their moment in the spot light and pressed the 3s hard from the off, quickly getting the ball into the 23 and staying there for a good period of time. With some strong words coming from the 3s bench regarding "looking after the ball" and "keep it out of contact" the away side worked their way back into the game.
Leicester's 3rd goal would come from an unlikely source, but you wouldn't know it from the way she took her chance. After a scramble in the circle the ball fell to Emily K who put the ball away like it was her 30th goal of the season. The 3s began to stretch the pitch and use the width as the 4s who had worked tirelessly all game began to show tired legs. With Eleanor happy to both carry the ball and distribute from the back it gave a large amount of options. One of her passes fell to Annie who rounded the last defender and was through 1v1 (for the 3rd time), with all the time and space in the world she put the ball.... straight at the keeper who saved brilliantly only for Sarah to somehow turn the ball home from an impossible angle! 4-0.
The 4th still attacked with the youngsters refusing to go quietly into the night, working the ball between each other to win a short corner, which they couldn't quite convert. Leicester's 5th came through using the whole width of the pitch (hallelujah) a good line ball from Jenny to Sarah, left her in space on the baseline and she promptly moved into it and into the circle. But some smart defending took the ball off her, which fell to Karen who used her reverse side to place the ball into the corner. 5-0. The sixth came shortly after, with the 3s transferring the ball well and working it into the circle Karen again found herself in the circle, this time with her back to goal, but had a divine moment and remember Ali's coaching (well that's what I'm going with) to shoot in her back foot space to make it 6-0.
For those who were at the game i think they would agree the score line wasn't a true reflection of the game and the 4th battled hard for the whole 70 minutes.
The 3s go again on Saturday against another 4th team this time it's the students!
Squad: Abi Hart, Annie Wiffen, Eleanor Godwin, Ellie Lineham, Elsbeth Woodgate, Emily Kendall, Etta Magill, Gemma Newton, Hannah Cufflin, Jenny Maddison, Karen Barnes, Molly Edwards, Megan Lowe (GK), Nat Gear, Sarah Turner
THE GODWIN FAMILY INVITATIONAL
I would like to thank the family for allowing the rest of us to play, umpire and watch.
Some would class it as a grudge match, a league game but most of all an opportunity. Yet again I felt it was taken. The 4s played some very tidy hockey. Making up for the lack of power, many put down markers to the 3s that they were coming, they have talent and they were not afraid to use it. I only wish the 4s were 3 or 4 years older, stronger and quicker. I can only say they are letting me down hugely in their failure to grow up at the rate I would like them to.
To be fair, the result was never ever in doubt. The 3s had just a little too much physical superiority and quality in key areas of the pitch. However, it was great to see some players who have been educated by the 4s, this season, expressing their talent for the scumbag opposition. Although they are all splitters for deserting the 4s for the game, it will not be forgotten or forgiven….ever. I am taking suggestions for suitable punishments if they return.
Again I was chuffed to bits with the side. Some additional faces joined the side for the game; some old, some new, some borrowed and some erm ..… the gillet (second time its been mentioned but it has become my favourite hockey accessory in recent weeks) is blue. Another group of 4 in defence; Marion, Fran (who was fantastic in only her second game of adult hockey), Anna K and Emma R with Caitlin G back in goal. For 20 minutes the game was tightish and chances were missed. A momentary lapse in concentration and communication saw the first goal.
The game however, was certainly not all one way traffic, the team looked to play their way out of trouble, move the ball around the pitch and at times looked good for a goal or two. Regrettably not to be.
We were blessed, however, to see the first attempts at human powered flight as Judith managed, without the aid of an engine, to fly a good 10 metres down the pitch. Aided and abetted by a wild swipe from the opposition captain it was certainly exciting to watch.
Emma S, Elise, Katie and Anna G gave Gaynor the legs she needed in midfield. The quality of their hockey touch was great to see, and frequently commented on. On the water based pitch for the first time this season, it gave them all the chance to demonstrate their hockey skills. Anna C was the fulcrum for much that was positive in attack, successfully avoided being penalised for using the back of the stick and made every effort to use the full width of the pitch.
In attack Jennifer, Chiara and Caitlin P created a number of semi opportunities. Some good goalkeeping and last touch defensive efforts, frustratingly stopped the side from getting a goal I believed we deserved.
By the end of the game, everyone was on their knees physically; two games, county training and the efforts exerted took their toll. A couple of late second half goals took the final tally to 6-0. We are very consistent in our defeats.
After the game, all I heard was positive feedback. Massive kudos to all of you I think.