Match report : Jo Price
Result : Southgate 4 – 4 Imperial Medics 1s
I have found myself dithering about writing this report as it is difficult to be honest without being overly critical but I’ll do my best to be even-handed.
I will preface this by saying that in all of the years that I have been playing hockey I have never played in a game quite like this one. It felt like an Eastenders episode-a-night drama played out on a hockey pitch.
Once again there was low player availability which particularly affected the 4s and 5s and a 10.00 am PB near Heathrow did not not help our cause. However, by Friday evening we finally had eleven players and our opposition had agreed to supply both umpires. This week we welcomed Ella and Lara from the U-14s and Anna for her first league game. Our trip west began in sunshine but was shrouded in fog on arrival at the ground – maybe an omen of what was to come.
Once on the pitch the first umpire arrived to say that his colleague was held up in traffic. At 10.20 and more than well warmed up, we agreed to start the game with one umpire with the proviso that he would do his best and both teams would own to any misdemeanours. The game began at a fast pace with their youthful forward line catching us on the hop and scoring within the first few minutes. We responded brilliantly with some fast passing of our own enabling Mon to drive in from the right and slot home our first goal. Now hitting our stride, a second followed quickly courtesy of Anna moving in deftly from the left. We had suspected that their goalkeeper was not a regular when she asked if anyone had a stick to loan her…
Now on a roll we added a third to our tally but in the spirit of honesty owned to the ball having crossed the sideline during the move towards the goal. So no goal. From hereon the sequence of events is somewhat blurred. Despite the second umpire arriving it is fair to say there was quite a lot of acrimony flying around, especially after a series of short corners one of which resulted in a goal being awarded to them ,despite hitting an opposition foot. Sarah had several ‘conversations’ with the umpire, I was carded for the first time in my life for making a query about the advantage rule and Lara in her first adult league game (having scored a goal in similar fashion to Mon’s) was also green-carded in the same half. There was also a 3rd green card for one of our players but the details escape my memory.
Medics scored a third goal, glancing from their player’s body and when, yet again, an LC was awarded to the home team despite having come off an Imperial stick Kim implored our opponents to own up to their fouls so that we could all have an enjoyable game. Hmm……. By the time the second half started we had blue skies and gorgeous sunshine, but if we had hoped for a more harmonious half it was not to be. During the first 15 minutes Anna and Mon came close to scoring again and Lynn was unfortunate to hit a good strike just wide of the post. Sarah finally broke the deadlock with one of her piercing drives through the middle and a strong strike on goal.
Still, the Medics’ talented front three showed good speed and great stick work and were a constant threat going forward. There were several more ’conversations’ between Emma and the umpire and Kim and the umpire with Kim taking the opportunity to call us around. We were now at the clutch point of the match. I was elbowed in the face (no stoppage) and there was a sustained period of attack from the oppo resulting in another home goal. Our defence were now under the cosh and with very few decisions going our way we needed to be relentless in our tackles and clearances. Bodies were put on the line and the defence did exceptionally well to hold them off.
Amidst the melee Kim’s foot prevented a goal and, yet again, Helen was called into action, this time to step up and brilliantly save a penalty stroke. With 9 minutes to go (I had checked with the umpire) and the ball finally cleared from our defensive half we thought the drama was over, but there was time for one further twist when Lara was pulled over by the umpire and publicly admonished and then needed to leave the pitch triggering several more ‘conversations’. The restart was mercifully short and, after a game lasting more than 2 hours, we left the pitch thankful to come away with an extremely hard-earned point.
In summary, there were 8 goals scored, 8 stoppages and 3 green cards all issued to Southgate players. This could and should have been a very enjoyable game. The few of us who could stay for tea had a good chat with their captain and a couple of their players as we were all keen to pour oil on troubled waters. Hopefully, the return home fixture will provide an environment that all the players deserve.
We have a busy weekend ahead with a home fixture against Old Ux’s on sat and the rescheduled Eastcote game away on sunday. We are finally hoping to have the opportunity to have tea together and have the chance to award our first WOW of the season!