PLAY OFF HOPES STILL ALIVE!
Leicester had high hopes for this fixture with a play off spot still available to them based on other results across the league.
Leicester started game really well going 1-0 up after three minutes following a lovely flowing move from their own half ending with Lizzie Honarmand stealing Katie Long's shot on goal. The debate continues whether the ball had crossed the line before Lizzie touched it!
Leicester then took the foot off the pedal and allowed Bowdon Hightown back into the game with some mediocre passing and lack of concentration and pace. Bowdon equalised on 18 minutes through Sian French after a series of defensive errors.
This kicked Leicester back into action who stepped up the pressure, Liz George 3D skills in the D led to another goal and Leicester going into half 2-1.
Strong words at half time for both coaches and teams and Leicester burst back into life in second half and totally dominated.
3-1 after 40 minutes- Holly Payne's goal a strong push from top D after a long pass through from the left.
4-1 after 50 minutes- Kim Leiper's a deflection after more strong play down the left hand sideline.
5-1 after 65 minutes- Liz George's second and a well deserved goal having been on the end of a few deflections that narrowly missed the mark, a deflection back post initially shot by Maddie Newlyn.
Leicester had numerous other chances with the ball whizzing past the far post several times, a great sign for the final game of the season next week.
The win gives Leicester a fighting chance of qualifying for the play offs with a top four position if they win this weekend against Holcombe (away), Birmingham lose or draw away to Canterbury and Clifton Robinson lose or draw to Surbiton!
The 2’s stepped out against a sharp and strong Sutton on Saturday. The sides were evenly matched with 2’s resorting to unsteady and rushed play, but once they settled into their rhythm, their play and patterns turned the game around. Some lovely worked team goals lead to a goal from Hannah Cufflin and later on from Kitty Bridgewood after some lovely long hard passing out of midfield and defence and ball control and carry from Bethan Clargo.
Leading at 2-0 at half time, in the second half both teams scored with Sophie Hammerschmidt making it 3-1 for the 2’s to win a hard fought game. The defence at Leicester including Jenni Schanschieff, Lucy Meadows and Sophie Drewry was tested throughout and worked well under pressure, without them their tenacity and wise techniques Leicester could have easily put GK Steph Tirrell into more pressured situations.
All in all another great result for the team and coach Joe Paul.
Next game vs University of Birmingam 3rds away 11:45 pushback
LEICESTER 1 - 3 LOUGHBOROUGH TOWN
With the top 3 out of sight and the top 2 battling for promotion leicester looked to secure 4th place in the league.
Leicester began strongly, and, for the first 5 minutes pressing Loughborough hard but to no avail. Loughborough slowly worked their way back into the game through some good play and earned a penalty corner. This is something which they had clearly worked on in training as they ran a good slip routine which was saved well by Megan and only converted on the second attempt 0-1. Leicester were not deterred and continued to press hard, with the forward line of Karen and Sarah causing havoc and giving the Loughborough town defensive a physical game ensuring they were kept busy. They were backed up well with skilful play from Hannah and Abi on the wings.
Loughborough would continue to be pressed as Leicester earned a PC, which fell to Annie at the top of the circle who struck, hitting the number 1 runner on the ankle which should have resulted in another PC, however Loughborough broke quickly and it was only the quick defending of Etta, Casey and Ruby to block the attack. A momentary lapse in concentration by Leicester off the 16 resulted in Loughborough's second goal. Loughborough would continue to press hard for the remainder of the half, however the pressure was absorbed well as Leicester rotated their back line with Molly and Jenny standing strong to break the attacks down.
Loughborough came out strong at the start of the second half and scored early on to make it 3-0. Turning the ball over in the middle of the pitch and breaking quickly Leicester couldn't quite get to the ball as the Loughborough forward slotted the ball home. This would be Loughborough's last meaningful attack as leicester took the game to Loughborough for the last 25 minutes. The midfield of Ellie and Eleanor would dominate prevent any attacks from occurring and setting up several for the home side. Leicester rotated the forward line to keep legs fresh and continue to apply the pressure as Elsbeth and Tilly worked hard up and down the wings to keep the Loughborough defence honest.
Leicester would get a goal however-a quickly taken side line ball by Annie resulted in a free hit, smartly played the base line and squared across the circle the ball fell to an unmarked Hepzi who calmly slotted the ball under the on rushing keeper- 3-1.
This would be final score and heading in to final game next week against Leicester uni 11:00 pushback away, Leicester will look to secure 4th place. Before a plate final on the 1st April.
Squad: Megan Lowe, Annie Wiffen , Ellie Copeland, Etta Magill, Elsbeth Woodgate, Ruby Barham, Casey Humphreys, Molly Edwards, Karen Barnes, Jenny Maddison, Hephzibah Smalley-Kaspruk, Tilly Johnson, Sarah Turner, Abi Hart, Eleanor Godwin, Hannah Cufflin
THE WALKING WOUNDED
This weekend was frustratingly another case of what might have been. Written that a lot this season and its something to be resolved next year.
We started the game with 12 players, having lost a couple during the week, and ended the game with 9.5 (players playing on through strains, injury and being generally knackered). Started the match with 10 and 2 subs. Oops. I blame it on the fact that so many of the players are so small and tiny, it is very easy to miss them.
The first half seemed to go very quickly. We dominated possession, created a couple of half chances but could not quite get on the end of balls to take advantage. We conceded a sloppy goal on 20 mins. Frustratingly, it resulted in a goal. The end of half saw Anna K limping off. Initial thoughts were she was being a bit of Big Girls Blouse, but it quickly became apparent that she would be unable to continue. A significant loss to the team. As the team talk started, a number of players requested a rest, I smiled sweetly (as I always do) and told them to get on with it. We were going to have to get through the remainder of the match with what we had.
The second half progressed much like the first, dominating patches in possession but lacking the patience and experience to make something of the final ball which meant we always were at risk of quick breaks. The more the half progressed the more frustrated and desperate we seemed to get. Thanks Elsbeth for the half time sweets, I got one of them. Shocking! Jen, who had been doing a great job in a defensive role, was asked to step up and push for the equaliser. Less than a minute later, Loughborough broke and tucked the ball away. Sandy, who had been doing a great job in a defensive role, was asked to step up and attack, push for the goal. Just over a minute later, Loughborough broke and tucked the ball away. 3-0, I have absolutely no idea how we lost by this margin. Caitlin was great in goal, mobile and positive around the circle, stepping out clearing up as all good keepers should. None of the goals can be pointed in her direction.
Sandy, Jen, Emily and, specifically, Frankie had defended superbly, been very disciplined and organised. All were playing in positions they are unaccustomed to. Yes there was some “interesting” challenges but any challenge is acceptable as long as goals are not scored
Emma (ignore your dad re hockey), Caitlin P (ignore your dad re hockey), Anna K (before she got her pinky bruised and was unable to continue, dad wasn’t there so can’t comment on ignoring) and, especially, Abi (playing in midfield for the first time) really ran themselves into the ground and even though you could tell they were tired, they kept going and came alive with ball at the end of their stick.
Anna C (carrying an injury), Anna G (seemed to grow in confidence driving down the right wing) and Kate Smart (just in the wrong position each time the ball broke her way) were encouraging going forward. A little luck and perhaps a reflection of opportunities gained throughout the season certainly deserved more for their efforts.
So in summary, a series of coaching failures probably cost us a win this weekend. So on that basis we can all blame Caitlin P who was promoted to Assistant Coach on the drive over to the game.
Player of the match. I think Jennifer was awarded it by the opposition. For me, two players deserve that recognition- Emily in a forward sweeping role played very well, mopped up in front of defence, moved the ball when opportunities arose and remained calm in position. Secondly, Anna ,. She looked the most likely player to create chances in attack and caused the Loughborough defence some real problems. If not for one of the Loughborough fullbacks, who was amazing defensively, I am sure we would have got our just desserts. Really pleased with the performance despite the result.
The Fourth Team's final fixture of the season is against Ashby seconds who sit below them in the table at home 10:30 pushback
GOOD WIN FOR 5THS TO END LOSING STREAK
Just a couple of weeks ago we were looking at this game against Ashby 3rds as a likely promotion decider. However, two indecisive showings on the trot saw us lose narrowly each time leaving Ashby with a clear run at the promotion spot behind Melton. Having lost to them earlier in the season, despite leading with five minutes to go, we were keen to redress that and the more recent poor run. We were able to field a strong side despite losing a couple of talented young players to the 4ths.
Exchanges early on showed that this would be another tough game with plenty of chat between the sides. Like us, Ashby have developed some talented youngsters and it was these players that stretched us most. Both teams had spells in possession and Marion Godwin, pushed up into a midfield role, had a good chance to give us the lead but shot at the keeper; hardly surprising given that she normally never gets near the circle. It was a reliable source that gave us the lead; Clare Slater scoring for the umpteenth time this year from a penalty corner that was a double 1-2 with Gaynor Nash. Defensively we had our scares but held firm with Cas Evans in dominant form in goal.
The second half saw Ashby on top for a while and winning a succession of penalty corners but we defended stoutly, once with just three and the keeper as, surprisingly, one of our defenders was out too fast. We weathered the storm, hitting Ashby on the break. A great attack from half way between Chiara Bensi and Emma Sleeman saw Emma score a fine goal from a narrow angle to give us a two goal cushion. Ashby huffed and puffed but the match ended with us in the Ashby 23 yard area looking for a third. Ashby look pretty safe for promotion and we wish them well in the higher division but we'll probably still see familiar faces as their 2nds look like being relegated from the Premier Division. They picked Emma Sleeman as their Player of the Match and she and Chiara have picked up most PoM awards this year.
Squad: Cas Evans, Stacey Poole, Hazel McSweeney, Rosemary Jacques, Jane Cottrell, Jane Worlding, Marion Godwin, Clare Slater, Gaynor Nash, Emma York, Judith Bensi, Emma Sleeman, Lydia Cross, Lucy Pears (C) and Chiara Bensi.
Next week the squad travels to St Margaret's to play Bosworth at 10am in the last League match of the season. That seems to have come round very fast!