This week the L5s were keen to build on last week’s important league win, but also to increase the conversion of chances to goals. After a slick warm-up and focused team talk from skipper Emma, welcoming our new players into the team, we took to the field.
We dominated the first ten, relentlessly attacking the Oxford D and this pressure resulted in several chances on goal. An excellent ball came in from Jane in the right midfield, touched on by Sophie D, Sherene swept it towards goal only to be thwarted with a save right on the line. Shortly after some strong attacking play resulted in a short. A pin-point accurate injection from Bernie set up a fantastic strike from Jacs which beat the keeper, but this too was saved on the line by a defender. Another short was deflected wide. Would we ever be able to get the ball across the line?
Oxford started to get their shape passing well through the midfield and Iona made some impressive saves, twice coming out to close down a player breaking through and keeping us in the game. We had some good breaks from Katie H with new inners Lucy, Sophie H and Katie J settling in to their channels, but unfortunately Jim the umpire didn't agree that headers should be allowed and at half-time it was still a 0-0 deadlock.
At the break we were cool, calm and determined to get the ball into the back of the net. In a welcome team talk from manager Kasey, each line was given specific points to work on, and this helped us to improve our shape. Crucially she also told us to make sure we always had players in the danger zone.
After the break both sides came out fighting and had several chances. With our midfield defending more cohesively we increased our possession and some excellent linking between midfielders Emma, Jacs, Charlotte and Lucy made us look dangerous again. Oxford had several chances at the other end and Caroline, Becky and Susan stepped up to shadow and block the incoming runners. We had to defend several shorts but solid defending kept the sheet clean.
After 15 minutes a good switch across the back line resulted in space and attacking possession in the central midfield. Emma executed a terrific “lifty-lofty” ball into the D, a neat deflection from Monica took it over the last defender’s stick, Sophie D, plum in the danger zone swept the ball through the keepers pads and we were 1-0 up with a real team goal! Minutes later Charlotte executed a fabulous roll out, passing the ball wide to Sophie D who shot down the right wing. Some great advantage was played by umpire Adrian, and Sophie cracked the ball in to the p-spot where Katie H was waiting to coolly slot the ball into the goal.
This two-goal buffer allowed us to relax and despite much pressure from Oxford, we held them at bay. Sophie H, Lucy and Sherene conducted some excellent front-line defending and this made us confident that we could hold onto a clean sheet. Finding space out wide, Jane sent ball thundering several times into the D, threading her shots neatly through the defenders, but not quite managing to pick up Sherene who was keen to get onto the end of them and add to our total. The final whistle brought the fun to a close on a good game of expansive hockey.
Many thanks to Jim and Adrian for their excellent umpiring and good humour and to Evelyn Hargraves for the excellent photos. POM was Katie H.