Hmmm…. a little unfinished and late with the match reports… well it is nearly Christmas!
Bromley and Beckenham 6-3 1st XI
Hmmm, who knows what happened?
2nd XI 5-1 Trinity Mid-Whitgiftian
Wouldn’t we like to see this match report?!
Croydon and Old Whitgiftian 3s 1-3 3rd XI
A top-three clash saw us come away from Croydon with all three points and in so doing extended our lead in Surrey 1 to eight points with only the game against second-placed Surbiton to come before the break. We dominated the first 20 minutes, taking the lead after two when David Knapp set up Eds Copleston. We then created and missed almost a dozen more chances before Croydon, who defended superbly throughout, hit us on what was their first real break and leveled. We continued to press, regaining the lead six minutes into the second half, but Croydon came back strongly and the final 20 minutes were much more even. A third eight minutes from time sealed the win but Croydon were all over us for the final five minutes and only an outstanding goal-line save from Rob Merry prevented Croydon scoring a second.
London Academicals 1s 1-2 Ladies XI
Our match was against London Academicals, away, but home at OC’s. So we were away, but at home. Got it? Once this was explained to everyone 500 times we were ready to go. Accies were on a roll, unbeaten at the top with an impressive goal difference so we knew this game was going to be tough. And it was. This was a match with no room for mistakes and from the start the oppo showed fitness and speed, making constant runs into our half. They harassed non-stop but Michelle and our defence held their ground. It took us about ten minutes to settle into this game and we had some great breaks at the front from Richie, Fletch and Alicia but we only had a few ‘in the D’ opportunities. Five minutes before the first half whistle, a great save by Michelle frustratingly then rolled underneath her only for the oppo to chip it. 1-0 at half time.
We didn’t let our heads sink, in our hearts we knew we could even this game out. We were playing as strongly as we’d ever played and we wanted to win this match badly. We started the second half like we meant business, with more solid defending and hassling at the front. There was a tense moment when Accies earned themselves five short corners in a row but yet again Michelle, Hels, Beth, Jax and Emily defended like their lives depended on it. Finally, a long corner taken quickly in the oppo’s half saw Nikki hit the ball into the D, with Fletch nicely reversing the ball into the back of the net, 1-1! I think this goal pumped a huge amount of adrenalin into us. The oppo started to get slightly rattled, one appealing for Liz to be carded at one point but we kept out mouths shut and heads down. There was a mistake coming, we could feel it. With the clock ticking, in the last few seconds we won a short corner, I think our first in the entire match. The final whistle was blown and we all huddled round the top of the D. Instructions were given but ultimately, we just needed to keep the ball in the D. Hearts in mouths, Emily pushed out to Richie, a quick 1-2 pass was denied but the oppo’s defender passed the ball backwards in error. Ali jumped on this mistake and chipped the ball into the goal. We’d won! I can’t quite describe the elation the entire team felt at winning this match. We celebrated this goal like we’d won the league with much screaming and hugging. This wasn’t arrogance, this was complete joy at beating the team who were the ‘ones to beat’. Everything came together for us in this one match. We’re bottling this feeling and taking into the next half of the season.
Vamps 3-2 Richmond Ladies 6
We had a decent squad for the game, and in addition, the 1sts kindly lent us Sophie. In the warm up, she asked a few interesting questions – answers essential for her to be able to help the team as much as possible. I feel I somewhat embellished my answers – I didn’t want her knowing the truth about our slight lack of game planning.
The conversation went like this:
Sophie: What formation do you adopt?
Me: Well, we like to play the 3/4 press, where the defence and midfield man mark and the forwards slide across as a three in front of the ball. We find the press sits the team a bit further back leaving less space behind, but still presents an organised wall for the other team to try and play through.
What I should have said: If we have the ball we run forward. If the oppo has the ball we run back.
Sophie: What do you do on penalty corners?
Me: We like to use the same system as Germany, whereby we have three stoppers each with their own flicker. We use direct drag flicks approximately 62% of the time, but occasionally throw in a bunt flick.
What I should have said: The ball is hit to the top of the circle and one of us tries to welly it in the goal.
Sophie: How about defending corners?
Me: We have found a system which puts pressure on the direct shot but also covers the space against variations. To achieve this we favour the 2-2 box defence system.
What I should have said: we run out as quickly as we can with our sticks down and hope for the best.
I was now feeling quite smug that I had covered all our ‘strategies’ as the game started. I really think Richmond (who haven’t lost a game this season) could have had a bit more respect for us – after all we are top of the table, but they came out all guns blazing. We never help our cause, as our first 20 minutes, as usual, was played like something only slightly resembling hockey. I contemplated going home. Richmond were young, feisty and pretty skilful so our work was cut out. Under immense pressure, and against the run of play we managed to get a corner. A good hit out from Kathy followed by a beautifully topped ball which befuddled the defence, allowed Kathy to sweep the ball in. They then scored, even though our defence were totally on it by this stage.
Second half, Margaret scored with a delightful push from the top of the circle but they scored again making it 2-2. With about 15 minutes to go, Sara sent a lovely ball to the LW, allowing Kathy, who is always in the right place, to sweep it in. Final score 3-2.
Joking apart, I am very proud of the team. We always seem to play teams where the players are at least 30 years younger than us. We may not have the speed anymore, but we definitely have hockey nouse and never give up. Thank you to Sophie for her important contribution, Leslie for her support and Louise for umpiring.
Goal scorers Kathy x 2, Margaret x 1