Leicester 1-4 University of Birmingham
Leicester’s 2nd team travelled away to North Notts on Saturday, ready for an exciting match. The long journey did not stop the girls from making a strong start to the game and it wasn’t long until the ball found the back of the net, after Kitty slotted it behind the keeper on her reverse. This was shortly followed by some strong link up play from our forwards which saw Lydia fire a great ball into the circle for Bethan who took a cracking reverse shot from a hard angle to make it 2-0 to Leicester.
With North Notts fighting to enclose on Leicester’s lead, our defence and midfield did well to keep them out of our circle. Just before the half time whistle, Leicester made another break where Hannah sent a beautiful ball across the circle to Lydia who took the ball one on one with the keeper and scored our third goal of the match.
After half time North Notts came out strong and looked dangerous in their attacking play. However, a fantastic save from Steph and lovely composure in our defence prevented us from conceding a goal. We were shortly back in our attacking circle when we won our first short corner of the game: a strong injection from Carys went straight out to Jen who striked the ball to the near post for Carys to deflect having run in from the injection spot, 4-0.
Leicester had a few more chances in the last quarter of the game with our half backs pushing up to help our attack. We were unable to capitalise until the last few seconds when we were awarded a penalty corner. The full-time whistle blew allowing the whole Leicester team to crowd around the circle, determined to score. A simple routine was chosen and proved effective when the ball was fired in to the goalie allowing Sandy to jump onto the rebound and then cleverly lift the ball over the keeper, a brilliant finish to a great game.
Leicester 5, North Notts 0.
3s Away Loughborough, start at 12, 10:30, 12, 10:30, 12. 12 it is then. With all the flip flopping with times it’s a miracle we managed to get 14 players ready and willing. 1 Gemma and 13 Emma’s took to the pitch. For the first 10 minutes no-one seemed that fussed, still sorting our hair and make-up, and it hugely impacted our performance. Loughborough went 1-0 up and we had basically let them walk the ball into the goal.
The frustration was palpable as senior players promptly let everyone know that it was time to pick ourselves up and get stuck in. Despite being pushed back into our 22 for much of the first half we were able to hassle and disrupt the opposition. We equalised off a breakdown caused by an Emma; a good turnover, a quick counter attack and we were hacking away at the ball in their circle. Arms, legs, sticks and heads were being swung at the ball, the ball slowly slid across the goal and an Emma tucked it away.
At this point, Gemma aside, the Emma’s went back into their shell. Defended a little narrow, too deep and stopped tackling. A similar scrappy goal later and at half time losing 2-1.
The second half display was much improved. An Emma tried to force a ball through an opposition players skull, other Emma’s were physically putting themselves about. Defensively it was hectic at times but the counter attack again proved effective as Leicester created many 1 on 1 chances which we fluffed. The two umpires enjoyed a robust discussion on the rules, disagreement ensured and, while a Loughborough player was being patched up having been smacked in the head, the rules were clarified (this had no bearing on the match but it is important that I am always correct).However, following some concerted effort and pressure we did equalise with a lovely lifted finish from a short corner, Emma again.
The game ended, and I will be honest, with mixed feelings. Loughborough probably had the better of much of the game but we created the better chances. A point gained, I think, and we may look back at that result at the end of the season as a defining point or a missed opportunity. Certainly, I think we all realise that we need to be a little more axe murderer around the pitch and a little less fairy princess. Being competitive, showing a desire to beat an opponent and improving our decision making at critical points in a game will get us through some upcoming games and the rest of the season. Well played. POM Gemma who continues to impress at the back.
A rigorous warm up led by captain Anna Kendall was definitely required in preparation for the cold, lunchtime game against top of the table Loughborough Town. Once the important decision of to wear skins or not was made we were all set to go!
The game was one of two symmetrical halves, which suited the OCD players in the team. Unfortunately the 4 goals scored in the first half and the four goals scored in the second half all went Loughborough Town’s way. A large score line which demonstrated the clinical performance from Loughborough Town but did not demonstrate the determined, hard working performance of the Leicester team who even at 8-0 continued to work hard for each other, play good hockey and create chances.
The speed of pass and ability to find space by Loughborough put our defence under pressure from the start however excellent marking by Jane and Marion combined with endless running by Anna G, Anna K, Emma and Georgia kept opportunities on goal to a minimum. It took an impressive set piece at a short corner to break the deadlock. Much praise should go to the midfield who worked tirelessly (however Katie’s strategy to win man of the match by finding a player who she can tackle take the ball off her, then give it her back so she can tackle her again, then give it her back and tackle her again before laying it off to Anna did not work!). Rachel’s experience was invaluable, creating space through her runs and holding the ball up well to provide a welcome release for the defence.
Emily’s super stick work could also have made her a contender for ‘player of the match’, I am sure only the fact that it was the wrong side of the sideline prevented her winning the award. It was a hard game for the forwards but Abi, Caitlin and Chiara continued to work hard to create options and only 3 super saves by the keeper prevented a Leicester goal.
Plenty of skill, speed, heart, resilience and spirit was on show and the team should be proud of their performance. Chiara was nominated Player of the Match by the opposition, a popular choice which reflected a super performance. A massive thank you to Jo, Georgia’s mom for ensuring teas were all ready for us (probably the hardest task of all with the temperamental ovens) and to Dave who continues to get the team to play impressive hockey.
Leicester 5ths are going well in Leicestershire Division One competing for top spot against Ashby 2nds, Loughborough Town 2nds and Harborough 2nds and it was a trip to Harborough last Saturday for our girls for an early morning start.
The game proved to be every bit as tight as the table itself with end to end hockey, tough battles all over the pitch and some good goalkeeping by both keepers. Missing a few regulars, the 5ths were delighted to welcome back Libby Haward and Clare Slater, both of whom had good games.
Standing on the side was like watching tennis with the ball sweeping right to left and then back again as both sides sought ascendancy. Leicester began to exert control with many circle penetrations, crosses and shots but against the run of play Harborough went ahead. The ball was worked quickly in to Leicester's half, tackles were missed and Sarah Hornbuckle was left unmarked to smack the ball past Charlotte Parker in goal.
At half-time spirits were still high and little motivation was needed from coach Gaynor Nash. Raring to go, the 5ths took the game to Harborough with Libby Haward in particular looking a threat. Eventually the Harborough defence cracked and it was Clare Slater who forced the ball home.
As the pace of the game began to tell, the 5ths lost Ails Bullivant to a thigh strain and Harborough began to look very threatening. Charlotte Parker made two good stops and we should really have sewn the game up after a good break between Libby and Lauren Ellis. In the end, composed play by Clare to see the game out in the top corner ensured a 1-1 draw and kept the top four tightly bunched. This weekend the 5ths face a tough Cup game against Loughborough Students 5ths 12pm at Leicester Grammar School, all support welcomed.