Frustrating first loss since January as 5s struggle to find the net

Match report 26th March W5s v West Hampstead 5s
Result – lost 1-2
Report by Jo Price

With a midday fixture for our penultimate match of the season the scene was set for a cracker of the game against a WH side only one point below us in the league.  We knew they meant business when they arrived early with a squad of fifteen.  Despite all best efforts to ensure a full squad for all our teams we were only able to field twelve on an unseasonably warm day.  

We started strongly with much of the play in our attacking half and with Sarah driving into the D, secured several early PCs.  A couple of decent shots on target tested the opposition keeper and told us that she was going to be hard to beat.  Despite our continued pressure the longer the score remained at 0-0 the greater our opponents’ confidence grew.  Their defence began finding some success with a few well-positioned passes through the inside channels.  A first PC for them saw the ball cracked well wide of the post but their were a few hairy moments as we worked to regain our composure and get back on the offensive. 

 At the end of the first half we had had the majority of the possession but had not found a way to create openings from open play and found their defence impenetrable from our attacking PCs.

We started the second half as we had the first, driving forward as a unit and Sarah winning innumerable PCs.  Everyone put in a shift with the defence pressing as high as they dared to back up the mids and forwards who continued to run relentlessly to find the elusive goal.  WH responded by packing their defensive D ,playing with increased physicality and beginning to use a high press.  

Midway through the second half the impasse was broken when a well-struck ball through the inside right channel, found a WH forward who drove almost to the back line before pushing the ball home from an acute angle.  This came as a real blow after all our efforts and created a big lift for the opposition.  As often happens when deadlock is broken they began to play with greater freedom and belief.  With the thermometer climbing, our lack of subs began to count.  

We had a 10-minute period where we lost our shape, gaps appeared and we were fighting fatigue.  A strong injection from a Hampstead PC was not cleared and a loose ball was pushed home from close range for goal number 2.  We dug in managing to rally and with 5 minutes to go finally manoeuvred the GK out of position for our youngest player Lily to drive across the line.  A consolation for all our efforts but not enough time to salvage a draw.

In the end, although I felt that we often played the better hockey, our eight Flutes and four Juniors could not hold out against their fifteen 20-somethings.  That is just the rub of the green but was obviously a big disappointment after such a good run and a big dent in our promotion hopes. On the bright side with all the availability issues throughoutthe season and inevitably many changes of personnel we have played some great hockey, scored some lovely goals and will finish near the top of the league. Something that seemed an impossibility back in September. 

WOW Claire for a great performance on the pitch

 With another strong  team performance there were votes for 6 players this week but the WOW goes to Claire -Idon’t think she will mind me giving a big thumbs up after coming from BTH last summer!
Last game of the season 2nd April home v Ham and West at 12.00pm. Would be great to have some support.