0-12 away at Deeside
By Tony Taig
Another heavy defeat
We knew this game would be tough and it certainly was. Luckily Deeside had 2 goalies and lent us Ben for the first half and Kian for the second.
The defence of Ivan, Will, Elle and Louisa were into the thick of the action from the first minute of the game, with Hermione, Elanor and Martha in midfield also forced to play deep in our own half. Some great saving tackles from Louisa and Ivan, and good saves from Ben, kept Deeside out for nearly 10 minutes, but the inevitable happened and 2 goals were scored in the first quarter - both by precision passes from Deeside inside the D leaving Ben with no chance and Deeside with a simple tap-in.
The pattern of the game continued in much the same vein, but with some definite positives in comparison with last week. We had far more breaks into the opposition half and completed at least twice as many passes (probably 3-4x as many actually) as last week. Ryan, Chloe and Scarlett worked tirelessly up front, with Imogen coming into the attack to provide a breather, and did a great job of creating space - the problem was that we were under so much pressure it was really difficulty to get the ball up to them.
At half time we were 5-0 down despite some amazing saves from Ben, Ivan and Louisa. We made a real effort in the second half to work the ball through the opposition attack from our defence, and this definitely improved as the game wore on, with Hermione, Martha, Elanor and Ryan getting in amongst the Deeside forwards to create opportunities to get the ball through while Elle and Louisa provided wide options.
Although Deeside piled on the goals in the last quarter as the defence tired and Kian was overwhelmed, our efforts to move the ball forward were now getting more successful. We had several attacks with real pace from Scarlett and Chloe, supported by Elanor, Ryan, Martha & Imogen moving up from behind, and Hermione tirelessly working up and down the pitch.
There's a lot to learn from games like this one. Deeside were a very organised team - everyone knew where everyone was and ought to be, while we had a lot of people playing in new positions - and indeed a lot of people who'd never played together before! But their basic skills were also much better on average than ours - firm passes that reached their intended recipient, and first touches on the ball that left it where they wanted it to be able to move forward or pass it on. They should do very well in the England Hockey boys U-14 cup.
Despite the score I felt there were a lot of positives to be taken from this game:
1. For the first time this season we managed to put out a team without having to get anyone from the Ladies 2's or Mens 4's to double up
2. Great debuts from Elanor, Martha and Scarlett - bit of a baptism of fire but some really promising skills, tackles and pace
3. Far more passes completed than last week (though still far, far too many going nowhere or to the opposition)
4. Real pace and stamina being shown, not just by the forwards and midfield when going forward, but by defenders and midfielders having to race back when our rare attacks broke down.
5. Our attitude and commitment were superb - 100% effort from everyone from first to last.
Hermione was voted our "Man of the match" by Deeside, and Ivan also got a lot of votes in our internal poll - both well deserved. I am really proud that our team attitude and manner was so positive in so tough a game - a lot of teams would have had heads down and moans all round, but we just stay positive. The Deeside manager congratulated us afterwards on our great attitude - we never stopped providing them with some real resistance, though they were always going to have the strength and skill to win.
Hopefully next week will be a considerably less strong opposition and we can build back a bit of confidence. And remember - everyone playing will still be an under-16 next year, and many of you the year after as well, which should make us a force to be reckoned with! If you haven't already, then get on the web site and get your availability posted for next week and the games in November.