(Report by Jim Sherring)
The Ladies left Sevenoaks on Saturday without the points, or any hospitality, but with a burning sense of injustice. The final result may have been disappointing but the performance certainly wasn’t as we played a full part in an excellent game of hockey. A classic ‘game of two halves’, in the first the Ladies dominated, and Sevenoaks staged a fantastic comeback during the second to nick the points.
With co-captain Filly driving the team forward from midfield the Ladies delivered one of their best attacking performances in recent years and in the first half shredding Sevenoaks, racing into a 3-0 lead. We took the lead after only 5 minutes when Filly waltzed through half the home team before cracking the ball past the helpless keeper from the right hand side of the D. Before the quarter was up we had doubled our lead when Millie BC drag flicked a penalty corner home expertly. Early in the second quarter Filly again took a hand and fired us into a 3 goal lead with another fantastic finish. Other chances came and went as Grace was close on at least 4 occasions to adding to our tally and Gabby MP just failed to squeeze the ball past the home keeper having been played in brilliantly by Milly P. At the other end the defence was holding firm with Jenny Hammond on debut particularly impressive. When Sevenoaks did manage to get a shot away Chaela was in inspired form. Just as we thought we would take a commanding lead into half time came the (very) late goal for Sevenoaks and even then it took a deflection to beat Chaela.
The start of the second half saw the home team take a grip on the game as some of the movement and energy slipped out of our game. It was far from one way traffic and we were still creating chances, and the game was very open. Having conceded 3 penalty corners in succession the pressure told during a prolonged goalmouth scramble and somehow the ball was smuggled in to bring the game back to 3-2. Just before the quarter concluded Sevenoaks manged to get level. We ceded possession a little sloppily when on the attack and from another corner a Sevenoaks mishit did a ‘Barnes Wallis’ into the corner of our goal.
The game was anyone’s going into the final quarter but the home team definitely had the momentum. Both sides had good opportunities to take the lead again but with 7 minutes remaining the home side scored the decisive goal. We pushed forward looking for a equaliser and had a few chances before the really contentious moment. An excellent break left us 2 on 1 and as the pass was pushed towards Grace, who was clear in the D, a Sevenoaks foot deliberately blocked the ball. Surely a penalty flick and a card??? No just a short corner. When questioned afterwards the Umpire said, somewhat enigmatically, ‘yes it should have been a flick and card but this isn’t a Saturday match’. What did he mean? Answers on a postcard.
With every Southgate player in the Sevenoaks half looking for the equaliser the home side broke and with the very last action of the match added a fifth goal which gave the score line a quite ridiculous slant. Ultimately we took nothing from a game where we gave so much. Next weekend we are at home to Wimbledon. If the team can take the positivity, energy and teamwork that was so evident this week into that game it is likely to be another fine game. Push back is 2pm at the club on Saturday and it would be great to get a good home support roaring the Ladies on.