W1 take Holcombe to the wire in thriller

2-1 Loss
Match report by Lily Freeman

Watch game highlights here

With some sore legs, a bruised foot and a bandaged head, we make our way to East Grinstead to play against Holcombe in what looks like a Premier League debut but is really just another game in the National League. After two wins on the spin against Canterbury and Slough, morale is high within the squad as we sit in the clubhouse with a nice cup of tea before going to the changing rooms which appear to look more like a living room with fresh paint, grey carpets and framed team photos. We have a team talk and venture out into the cold, many of us regretting not wearing skins. But as always, many of us become grateful with our decision.

The warm up is slightly disjointed; we jog and stretch in the car park and run away from the attacks of the sprinklers on the pitch. However, this is nothing that a great playlist from Emma Mac cannot solve. We complete the warm up at a high tempo, ready to face Holcombe with everything that we have.

Yikes. The opposition start with the ball and they start off with a bang. They’re a strong team with some great players, and unfortunately, they get a short corner within the first few minutes of the first quarter. They score from a clinical drag flick. 1-0. We know that we are in for a tough game. A few minutes later, they score a deflection off the back post. 2-0. We are definitely in for a tough game.

However, this wasn’t enough to deter the mighty Gate and after an inspirational talk from Andy at quarter time, we go back into the game determined to steal a point or two and get a result. We start to link up as a team by making triangles with the half backs and the midfield, firing it down the line, bringing it top D and we start playing some really good hockey. We feel like something is coming.

Not long after, the prophecy comes true as we win a short corner. All within a split second, the ball comes firing out from the injection spot, is stopped dead at the top of the D and flung across the D into the bottom corner from a wonderful classic by Jennie Stephens. The sideline is stunned as we barely saw the ball being fed in let alone slotted neatly into the goal. 2-1. We are back in the game.

We keep pushing. With the help of Alastair & co on the sideline, we planned to show them what Southgate W1s are made of and give them a cracking performance that will make them glad we made the trek; and we did just that. Lorna has a brilliant chance in front of goal that many of us cheered for as it appeared to be across the line, but unfortunately it resulted in a great save from the keeper and a wicked clearance from their centre back. It seemed like we were all over them, but the fatigue from the day before seemed to catch up to us as we continuously tried to defend and attack and defend and attack over and over and over again. The final whistle blows with 2-1 on the board.

We feel a bit disappointed that we didn’t get at least a draw as it seemed like we started on the back foot in the first quarter but our performance improved massively as the game progressed. Sadly, we just didn’t get the result we were hoping for. However, we walk off with pride knowing that we gave Holcombe a run for their money despite them being 3rd whilst we were 7th in the league at the time and it didn’t seem like there was much in it in the end. We got to see what we were capable of as a team and have learnt a lot ahead of our tough game against Surbiton on Saturday.

The team put in a very good shift. In particular, a classy performance from Syd in her W1s debut and a very special mention to our MOM (not mum) Buzz for a great game defensively and going forward. As always, for the second time in 2024, I manage to snag DOD again because clearly I just love the attention that I will never get from a goal so it must be something stupid, like walking onto the pitch without my stick. At least I’m consistent.

We go again this Saturday.