A strong and upbeat Ladies 1's arrived at Leighton Buzzard positive and ready to give it our all.
Not phased by the large gap between 'us and them' in the league, we played our own game from the first whistle. Drawing on the excellent pass-move-pass style we so eloquently demonstrated against Tring the previous week, we were soon moving the ball around Leighton Buzzard and maximised the opportunity whilst they were on the back foot. Even perhaps surprising ourselves, we were first to score. A fantastic through ball from Maria saw Mel use her silky stick skills and lift the ball cleanly over the goalie's foot. With a sting in our tail, we were on a high. 1-0.
Unfortunately, LB proved that the ensuing 2 minutes is the best to counter attack, and that they did. The rolling midfields of Stephie V-H, Alice, Meg and Deb worked hard to track back, mark and shadow their opponents. Wing-backs Faye and Helen were also up and down like yo-yos to support our power couple Emma and Ann in defence. LB's crazy captain crossed the ball from a yard outside the D finding no-one. As it touched nothing in the D, Berko left it to take a 16. Shock decision goal for LB!!! Frustration and protest ensued, but the decision was final. Score: 1-1.
We reset, refocussed and reworked the ball back up the pitch. Some tenacious play in the middle from Maria, Deb & Stephie, along with great supporting triangle passes out wide to Ali, Mel and Meg we were back in their D. Sarah and Anneke were gutsy up top and really proved their hunger for goal, slyly slipping it into the back of the D. However it was not to be - as it was a micro-second after the umpire blew up to award us a short corner. Playing the advantage was not his forte.
Again frustrated, but unphased, we worked hard on our short corners and didn't allow the adverse decision to put us off course. We saw some fantastic smooth play from all and a second to none work rate. Helen, Ali and Mel created some great connected runs and passes down the right, and Faye continued to impress with her arial passes to get her out of a corner on the left.
The game really was end-to-end. A head injury stopped play, LB captain on the receiving end. We were subject to her monster paddy - stick throwing, foot stamping and a truly ruffled & embarrassed LB. Letting the ball do the work soon paid off with Ali driving the ball into the D, placing a perfect cross to Mel who was stood behind the goalie! 2-1 to us!
De -Ja-Vu and we were back defending our D! Unsure how we got there so quickly (again), LB capitalised (again) and slipped the ball past each of us into the back of the net. Now 2-2. We were quickly demonstrating our calm, composed play would not be rattled. Unfortunately we soon faced another very "coincidental" call by the umpire - blowing up for advantage rather than playing advantage, which resulted in another disallowed goal.
Going into half time we were 2-2 and confident.
The second half was filled with more of the same joined up play and confident decisions from Berko, really putting it to LB, proving they would not get the better of us. A shot that would put any professional cricket team to shame, saw Emma clearing the ball from the D, followed with a very dextrous reaction from Vicky using chest and hands to clear a raised shot at goal as if it was nothing.
Alice and Steph were terriers in the middle, driving to Sarah, Anneke and Mel who had some great attempts on goal, including reverse stick shots. One final attempt and a cross from Mel saw Alice grab a goal to put us 3-2 up. As with the last 3 goals, LB were quick to counter attack. One swift player sprinting solo up the pitch, Helen comfortably tracking her, waiting for the perfect time to jab ... Helen quickly learned sometimes a foul is better than a goal and we unfortunately conceded a third.
Final Score 3-3.
Well done to a hard working, happy and cohesive team proving sometimes you shouldn't discount the underdog.
MOM - Ali Kraft for her gutsy play, excellent passes and work off the ball.
Goals for Alice, Ali and Mel.