This week Knowle2 were home to West City Acorns, the lovely team from far away with the killer twins in attack.  The team was slightly nervous and also missing a goalie today as the 1st poached Keeper Catherine.  Following the 20 second warm ups the team broke off into 3 groups (defence, midfield and attack) to discuss tactics.

Play kicked off a little late which didn’t seem to bother Acorns as they had first pushback and scored straight away (36 seconds to be precise).  Knowle2 were a little sluggish to get going and the absence of a keeper looked to cause the defence a little hesitance which Acorns exploited.

After the reset Knowle2 started to find a new gear and put together some good plays.  There was some good work by midfield with Rachel and Eden feeding the ball forward to Grace and Jo.  The Acorns defence repelled the first couple of Knowle2 attacks.  A free hit from the Acorns 23 saw a quick and long ball through the centre and Acorns were on the offensive.  Quick passing saw Acorns in the centre of the Knowle2 D, there was a big strike on target and into the net.  2 – 0 to Acorns, 6 minutes played.

At this point Knowle2 found an even faster gear and started to take charge of the end.  End to end play developed, the Knowle2 defence settled into their positions with Lucy and Karen fighting hard on the sides and Ruth covering the goal.  Ro was unstoppable in midfield constantly intercepting the ball and feeding it forward.

Knowle2 were piling on the pressure towards the end of the first half winning a couple of short corners but unable to get past the keeper.  With the ball out to the right side of the D an Acorn defender took a desperate swipe to clear the ball but it deflected upwards into the 6 pack of Becky.  Becky was a little winded by the ball but regained composure quickly to take the free hit before subbing off shortly after.

After gaining the ball following a foul Acorns played a long ball up through the centre to a lone Acorn attacker.  All credit to the Acorn attacker, she expertly held onto the ball unto support was able to reach her, there was a quick bit of passing and a strike which deflected off a Knowle2 stick flying up into the net.  Acorns 3 – 0.  Knowle2 kept their chins up and fought hard in the last few minutes of the half.

Half time saw positive chats and discussions around tactics.  Everyone agreed that the first few minutes was a blip but the play after that was great.

The second half saw lots more strong play from both sides but Knowle2 had the edge and had long period of dominance.  An Acorns attack saw an unfortunate deflection off Liz’s stick hitting her face hard.  Liz went down and play stopped whilst ice, first aid and general fussing was applied.  With Liz OK but out for the rest of the game Knowle2 had no more subs and had to dig deep.

This reporter was dealing with a minor medical emergency of his own (Violet scraped her knee) and was in the car park applying a plaster during the highlight of the match (for Knowle2 fans).  What I did hear was raised voices from Knowle2 players and supporters, a loud slam of ball on goal backboards and jubilant screaming from all associated with Knowle Hockey.  Eyewitness accounts state that the ball and half of Knowle2 made it into the D, there was a bit of a scramble and then Eden smashed the ball in for a Knowle goal.  The only criticism of the play came from spectating Paige who was disappointed with the goal celebrations which weren’t up to her “vocal”, “flashy” and “colourful” standards.

The whole team played a brilliant 2nd half with sharp passing, good tackling and defending and probably the best positional play of the season.  In the pre-game chats the midfield and attacking squads discussed getting forward quickly and getting ahead of the ball ready to receive it when we had possession, they managed this fantastically well and it paid off beautifully.

The Knowle2 goal came 10 minutes into the 2nd half and at 3-1 down there was genuine hope and optimism that we could win the game!  Sadly there were no more goals for Knowle2 despite some promising opportunities.

With 30 seconds on the clock Acorns won a short corner and conceding a 4th goal would have been desperately disappointing, good job we had Jo to deflect the Acorn shot wide for a long corner but also the final whistle.

The players left the pitch feeling like they had bagged a win.  Whilst it wasn’t a score line win, the team had bonded on the pitch, found their voices, communicated well, trusted each other and never gave up.

As usual teas were great, Liz was back on her feet and a bottle of bubbly was being shared around.