The weatherman forecast bad conditions and if truth be told, he underplayed it. It rained hard before the team turned up, it rained hard once they had arrived and I lost count the number of people who tried to suggest to Captain Catherine and anyone else who’d listen that we should pack our hockey bags and go back to our beds.
Sue R took the initiative and insisted everyone (well those who had the courage to leave the Merchants reception) engage in a vigorous warm up session. There was much running, stretching, arm swinging, some other stuff and finally everyone practised curtseys, I assume in preparation for our inevitable glorious victory.
With positions allocated, there was a brief opportunity to smash a few balls at the captain and then game on.
On the bench today Knowle2 had a couple of subs and a number of supporters, notably Sue S, Paige and Ella who turned up to support after their match at Clevedon was cancelled, you can read about it here. Paige explained that with no match to play they were at a loss for something to do, then they realised the Seconds were at home and would therefore have food.
Knowle2 started very strong once the game was underway and quickly won a short corner. The short was stopped by Acorns and they made a fast break. The Knowle2 midfield efficiently dealt with the break and sent the ball back up to the Knowle2 forwards.
It wasn’t long before a pattern of end to end play developed and Acorns had a good opportunity to take the lead but Liz and Rachel held them up and sent them back for a brief time before Acorns advanced again and took a shot at goal, Keeper Captain Catherine cleared that with ease. With the ball now lingering in the Knowle2 23m area it wasn’t long before they won a short from which they scored putting them 0-1 up.
Acorns were obviously buoyed by the taking the lead and they kept the pressure high on Knowle2 and made the defence work hard. A break by Knowle saw the team make a quick advance into the Acorns D and win a short. Karen took the glory in scoring an equaliser making the game 1-1.
Following the reset it was now Knowle2 who were the dominating side and stressing the Acorns defences with a barrage of runs into their D. A short was awarded to Knowle2, the injection was good, the ball then shot at goal and sailed past all the defenders and keeper into the backboards of the goal. The team cheered, the crowd cheered and Malcolm blew the whistle for a free hit to the Acorns. After a moment of confusion it dawned on the Knowle2 players that the shot was outside the D and there were no deflections, no goal.
Acorns seized on this opportunity to play a quick free hit which saw the ball played out towards the spectators and long up the pitch. The ball flew past the supporters chased hard by an Acorn yet guarded by Liz. Liz wasn’t entirely sure who hit the ball and a male, vocal supporter may have said something to the effect of “let it go, it will run off before she [the chasing Acorn] catches it”. As Liz eased off the ball hit a very wet patch of the pitch and slowed significantly almost to a stop. Liz quickly raced the Acorn to the ball and was able to clear it from immediate danger. Unfortunately other Acorns were running and they intercepted Liz’s strong clearance.
Acorns now had possession of the ball and an overlap of attackers to easily bypass the Knowle2 defence. Catherine made a great save with her stick but the mass of Acorns now in the D collected the ball off the rebound and put it in Knowles net to make the score 1-2 to them.
Paige and Ella consoled the team by shouting “Don’t worry, it’s all Chris’s fault”, there was probably a little truth in that.
It wasn’t long before the Acorns were back and won another short. Liz, Rachel and Jo took care of that one and Fran cleared the ball up the field. With their morale still high the Acorns strung together a great run which saw them circumvent everyone and score another goal. 1-3 to Acorns.
During the reset an Acorn stood in front and within 5 metres of the ball and not for the first time. Malcolm green carded the player and a discussion regarding the rules broke out amongst the umpires who were clearly having a disagreement.
The slight pause afforded Knowle2 time to compose themselves and they quickly won a short. Fran injected to Ruth (a combo that Ro renamed “Roo and Fru” before the match), Ruth smacked the ball at goal but an Acorn had got a stick to it deflecting the ball upwards. The ball landed safely and more importantly to Jades feet, Jade took a swing and scored giving everyone something to cheer.
The second half started fast and furious, if you were an Acorn, the players of Knowle2 took a few minutes to find their mojo by which time Acorns had scored their 4th and 5th goals. 2-5 to Acorns.
Acorns still weren’t satisfied and just kept coming. Liz started to shine very bright at this point and cleared the ball from the D and moments later managed to deflect a 3ft high shot for a long corner. Acorns won another short and sadly another goal.
Characteristically Knowle2 never give up until the final whistle is blown and an attack squad of Ruth, Grace, Ro and Jade quickly formed taking the ball up the field and expertly passing the ball around the opposition and also back and forth between them. Pass backs were expertly used to draw defenders out of position followed by the longer passes forward into newly created space to continue advancing the ball.
Ruth ran the ball into the right side of the D, she passed left to Jade standing near the penalty spot who shot but the keeper went down fast and deflected the ball into space on the left, here Grace took what seemed like the slowest swing in history and the ball tickled over the line for Knowles 3rd goal. 3-5 to Acorns.
From this point the Acorns were the stronger side by the slimmest of margins and ended up scoring their 6th goal of the game. 3-6 to Acorns.
There were a couple more chances for the team of Ruth, Jade and Grace to make strong attacking runs but sadly the Acorns defensive wall now seemed impenetrable.
The whistle blew and 3-6 to Acorns was the final score. The score line didn’t reflect how evenly the teams were and what a great match it was with both sides making plenty of opportunities to score. Knowle2 did very well at sticking to their positions and using the whole pitch. The defenders Liz and Rachel made some great tackles and clearances whilst supporting them Ceri and Jo blocked more than their share of shots on goal. Catherine was great in goal and made some great saves.
Midfield were also strong today with Ro, Becky and Vanesa blocking plenty of Acorn fast breaks and releasing the ball well to the forwards. Grace, Karen, Ruth and Jade did very well up font and were quick to flood the D when the ball was being played fast and hard into the Acorn 23m area, they also passed the ball between themselves with skill. The game didn’t result in a win, but it did show others and hopefully the Knowle players that Knowle2 are full of genuine potential to be a great team, capable of beating anyone in their division.
Teas were, as always, a triumph and hot chocolate was available to warm up some freezing bodies. Man Of The Match was deservedly awarded to Grace.