Kara’s new-look wee ladies were without their inspirational coach and had to make do with Jonny, as the under 16s travelled to the sometimes daunting environs of Marlow HC for their first game. A decent sized and non-barracking crowd welcolmed us, but a few of the girls were daunted by the opponents’ kit and overall demeanour (?!). A few unavailabilities notwithstanding, we were still a decent 13-strong team and the opening exchanges were a cagey affair. Our captain Gemma Taylor was pitted against their no.50 Katie and these two players tended to dominate the midfields. Marlow exerted a lot of pressure in the first half and Millie Lane was in the action the whole game, protected in large parts by Annabel, Lara and Caitie. Susie and Tiggy marshalled the wings admirably despite their lack of school hockey. Marlow went one up half way through the first period as Hawks defended stoicly, but a neat deflected goal gave them the lead. On the stroke of half time, Millie cleared a shot and nearly took Emma K’s head off, but nowhere near an opposition player. A short corner was awarded and they scored. HT 2-0. I politely enquired with the umpires why the penalty was given and they said it was uncontrolled and dangerous. I have subsequently conferred with (several) top-level umpires and had a mixed response; at junior level, safety is paramount and a corner is not unusual; at higher levels, as long as no attacking player is endangered it is considered fair play (so I’m still a bit gutted). In the second half, we decided to play a half to three quarter press, allowing them to have the ball at sixteens and this worked really well, as it bemused Marlow and we picked up a lot of stray balls through Priya, Gemma and Potter and we had a lot more possession. Gemma drag flicked a corner which was well dealt with by their keeper, but we continued to press and Jade, Sophia and Mimi worked really hard up front. The final score was 2-0 to Marlow, but a very encouraging start for the team.