After losing to East Grinstead coach Alice L's team talk very much emphasised the need to move the ball quickly to counter the effect of playing against some very experienced players. She wanted us to play fast, attacking hockey and we agreed the team targets: concede no goals, win more short corners and obviously score some goals. We had a strong squad of 14 outfield players so Manager Andrew had to manage the rotations; with 4 people to get on and off regularly and an eye also needed on the action, this fully tested his multi tasking abilities.
Eastbourne set up their shape with 4 in midfield but the back 3 of Jo, Libby and Suzy were alert to this and communicating extremely well to ensure they covered each other. They were ably assisted by Heather - bravely playing after a nasty mauling from her pet cat Kevin - and Ros who were tigerish in their defensive positions protecting the back three in front and behind when needed.
In the first half we started off very quickly and won good turnover. They squeezed our transfers well so it was hard to transfer left to right at pace, but we coped well under pressure to draw the first forward and play round the press. Jo was seeing a lot of the ball and using her range to start attacks either by going infield to switch the play or using the wide areas. In this period of pressure Alice O put in a very dangerous cross which Kerry came close to connecting with.
Pressure however was mounting and both outside midfield rotations were starting to tire the opposition defence as Jess with her passing range, Hannah & Kat with their pace and power and Alice O with her clever dinks were starting to see more of the ball. Harri received the ball on the left backline near the goal, dinked inside and then back out again to create the space she needed to pass the ball under the GK to score. Alice L - mainly bench warming as she nursed a heavy cold - then came on to great effect and demonstrated her passing range. The forwards - Kerry, Kat, Sinead and Harry - rotating to great effect - revelled in the space this created and we were unfortunate not to add to our goal tally. Chances did come but nothing clear cut.
At half time we were a little disappointed with our passing and the pace / intensity we were playing at but Alice L was very philosophical and reminded us we were still winning. The second half was a little better. Kate and the forwards saw much more of the ball as the work we put in off the ball began to pay off. We started to find the dangerous spaces more consistently and on one such occasion it allowed Kat a free unopposed run from the half way line. She ran straight at the advancing GK and was able to squeeze the ball past her and Kerry – who had looped around on the blind side to support - calmly volleyed into an empty net after the GK touched it.
Not long after the ball was played forward to Kerry who had time and space to pick her spot to score her second. GK Holly then made a fine save by looping the ball over her goal. They scored in the final minutes from a great move where their LM encouraged our backline to step up before a quick side step and a beautifully weighted ball to the far post was tapped over the line by an incoming forward. We did not keep a clean sheet but there was some consolation in that it was a very nicely worked goal.
Kate & Libby