Well, what a week! Three out of our five teams came away with three points, there was a birthday, a chilli theme for teas and no 4:30pm games! Huzzah! Here’s what the teams had to say:
Men's 1's Vs Cheam. Second match back after the Xmas break, but this time we actually got to play the game. And considering we missed last weekend, this was a match that showed some of our earlier season ability. We had a good squad, with the first starts for the 1's for Olly and Jamie, who both put in great shifts on the pitch. The match started strongly and we bossed the game for a good 15 minutes, with plenty of opportunities to get in the opposing half. This led to a great team effort goal, some fluid passing onto some great movement from the forwards, rewarded with a goal for Olly. Leatherhead controlled the first half and didn't seem too threatened defensively.
Second half came and our squad of 11 full of spirit but lacking a bit of fitness and the fresh legs of some subs started a bit slowly, letting cheam have some of the possession and a few tired mistakes creeping into the game. However it took a bizarre period of play for Cheam to eventually level the game with a scrappy goal and a lucky fling of the stick. The goal got Leatherhead motivated again, and we came back fighting, creating more chances, and grabbing ourselves a second goal to secure the win.
Great start to the second half of the season, and some great periods of hockey, hopefully we'll see much more of that as the season continues. 2-1 to Leatherhead.
MENS 2s (Diablos)
So after a great start after Xmas we took to the field knowing we had caught Barnes on the hop first game of the season, seeing a number of faces who had not featured in that first match confirmed they were not going to take us lightly again.
True to our home form parity lasted about 45 seconds before stand in keeper Harry Higgs had to see one go past him. Whatever we do we cannot shake the early half frailties.
After this the game settled into a midfield battle with neither keeper honesty being tested. We had two successive shorts presenting near post opportunities that could not be taken, then after a rare short corner from Barnes a foot on the line gave a penalty stroke.........duely saved!!!! Saw us out to half time 1-0 down.
Half time talk was about “getting our fingers out” but it was just one of those days. Another Barnes short and another foot on the line, this time into the goal, advantage given 2-0. Much chasing and a move to a 4-4-2 and Shaun Burchell sticks one in the top corner, only for Barnes to come through and slot a 3rd, followed by a, has to be said, well taken 4th. A late consolation goal from Lewis rounded off a 4-2 defeat that in brutal honesty Barnes deserved, generally a bad day at the office.
Well done to Eloisa on her umpiring debut, no complaints from us.
MotM: Damo Stanger (just monstered all over the pitch)
DotD: Harry (not chuffed with playing in goal, despite volunteering all week)
Our Mens 3s had an early away game against Royal Holloway, University of London Men's 2s. They came second place this week with a 6-1 lose.
After a 4:30pm game in Battersea Park last weekend, it was with great relief that this week was a 12:30pm home game just down the road! With a squad of 13, we were fairly confident that the intermittent sub-rolling would pump new energy onto the pitch regularly throughout the game, but the truth is, it took us a little longer to get into the game this week.
After a rocky start, Kenley looked strong, organised and had us panic-passing and missing cues from other team members. As Debbie mentioned as she watched from the sidelines, ‘they seem to be everywhere’. The energy was certainly there, but where it was being channeled to was yet to be decided. Ely was also sad after gaining a square Fitbit imprint on her wrist within sub 10-minutes of the game. Note to self, defending against a short corner striker with a watch face is likely to put the watch at considerable risk of a bullseye hit which, in this case, can and will smash the screen to high heaven – RIP Fitbit.
The first half proved to be hard work, with Kenley attacking our defence from all angles and potting the first goal of the game. Bugger.
This was followed up by a short corner awarded to us, which Megan Smith ensured didn’t go to waste! Scoring the second goal of the game and the first for Leatherhead with a marvellous strike from the top of the D (a Megan classic), Megan made sure we finished the first half level-pegging with the opposition.
As usual, Captain Jo and Kat were on hand during half time talks to re-arouse the energy levels of the team. They were quick to point out that we hadn’t yet shown our best hockey and we had everything to play for in the second half.
And as always, they were right.
The last 35-mins of the game were equally hard work, but we pocketed our fluster and got some of our mojo back. The game certainly felt like it was flowing better and that we were starting to enjoy ourselves. In amongst this enjoying ourselves, we still need to pot one final goal to add to our seven-week winning streak. And we found that moment about 25-mins in. Eloisa Tovee picked up the ball around the halfway line and drove it forward, passing it around one defender and into the D. At this moment, the keeper stepped out of the goal and was well and truly prepared to take her out. In fact, just as the keeper went for the ball, Ely moved it to the right and hit it straight at the goal, slipping it under the keeper’s body just before it got squished and winning the second goal of the game for Leatherhead! She was as shocked as the rest of the team, but equally excited!
Once we were 2-1 up, we spent the last eight-minutes of play defending our goal and killing time to ensure we left with the win we fought so hard as a team to secure.
Rebecca made some incredible runs and managed to save four or five balls rolling off the sideline after being walloped out of the oppositions D by their defence. Jess did her usual gracefully snaking round the players and driving the ball up to the forwards and out of our danger zone. Jules hobbled off during the first half of the game but was on again and battled through till the end. Liz A took a pretty hard ball to the knee but like Jules, came back with fighting spirit and kept the defence fierce for the closing minutes of the game. Sophie, Steph and Liv spent the entire game darting around the pitch, picking up players and applying constant pressure, showing Kenley that we weren’t just going to roll over and let them pass. Cush seemed to have an admirer in the shape of the opposition’s goal keeper who took the time to give her special attention in the D (maybe she just wanted a hug?) Cathy and Liz C consistently kept the ball in the opposition’s 16, moving it between themselves to keep the defender’s busy and taking shots of goal to keep the pressure on the keeper – it’s incredibly inspiring seeing how switched on Liz and Cathy seem to always be at the top of the pitch! Other than pulling off another cracker of a short corner goal, Megan also did a superb job with teas. I genuinely think those are the best homemade brownies I've eaten, ever! Jo looked as menacing as ever in the goal and did an incredible job organising the defence and making sure that after that first one went in, another wasn't going to follow! Ely is writing this match report and has already mentioned herself twice so is going to politely duck out of this part of the post :)
Needless to say, amazing work ladies! Next week we face the top of the league who, in the past 12-weeks, remain undefeated… here goes nothing eh’.
Thank you to Alex Truelove for umpiring and for the supporters who came to watch from the sideline!
L2 Match report:- after a cancelled friendly last week, the L2’s got an extra week to polish off the Christmas left overs and delay their New Year’s Resolutions on the fitness front. We turned up at the Merton pitch with New Year New hopes optimism as we were playing the one and only team below us! It might just happen! Missing Frankie, and down to 12 players with a Dog first aid kit including rectal thermometers and tick removers ... the scene was set! A quick re-hash of the team sheet and some inside information from Melissa Stansfield on the various tactics of her old side and we were away! The warm up was.....tentative ..... the ball was too hard to see, and the first few minutes looked a bit like we had overindulged on the Christmas pudding! But as the game progressed we remembered how to play hockey and things started looking good! Sally Hole came on for a total of 8 minutes and retreated with a possible hamstring injury (trying my best to ignore it!) and we went in to half time 1-0 down! The snowmen Jelly babies have renewed energy and it was all to play for!
The second half we came out fighting. There were lots of 1-2’s and then some 1-2-3’s.... and maybe even some 1-2-3-4’s?! A short was given and Roanna Thomas smacked it home with a fantastic strike! The crowd of .... 3 ..... roared! Now we just had to hold on! The passing was good, Merton kept us under pressure but with some amazing play up the pitch, Lucy Dorrington got the ball to silky skills Roanna and the lead was ours! The last 10 mins were pretty nail biting and the match finished on a Merton short but we did it!!!! First (proper!) win of the season and man it feels good!!! Well done to all the players, old and young! Good to see you working for each other to the bitter end! We have arrived!!!!
Other exciting news:
The LHC annual Quiz Night is coming up fast! Taking place on Saturday 27th January at Oxshott Village Sports Club. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are £10pp, with a fish and chip dinner to follow after a few rounds of questions (beer can keep you going till then 🍺). Details on who you need to pay your money to, and other fun information, can be found here: https://www.leatherheadhockeyclub.co.uk/new-events/2017/6/16/lhc-quiz-night