LTHC Ladies 1st XI 3 vs Loughborough Student Ladies 3rd XI 2

England Hockey Investec Women’s Tier 2 Championships – Round 3

Saturday 10th February 2019

On Sunday 10th February, Loughborough Town Ladies 1st XI hosted Loughborough Students Ladies 3rd XI in yet another derby, this time vying for a place in the last 16 of the England Hockey Cup. After a surprise draw against Belper 2nd XI in the league the previous day, Town started as the more apprehensive of sides, with Students pressing high from the outset. The Students’ side boasted some pacey forwards with clearly some 2nd XI players supplementing the team sheet, causing Town’s defence problems from the start.

Within five minutes, Students’ pressure paid off as they won a short corner off a Town foot in the circle. A well worked deflected short corner saw Students deservedly take the lead. In danger of allowing the floodgates to open, Town steeled themselves and began to play as full functioning unit, matching the Students across the park. Some slick passing up the pitch saw Alex Hardy spin around the Students goalkeeper and smash the ball home to bring the score to 1-1. Again the momentum switched with Students enjoying more possession. A fast break from the Students’ forwards saw the ball deflected mid-air into the goal over Harriet Galpin’s head to put the opposition back in the lead at 2-1. Finding themselves behind again, Town’s spirits were not dampened and some strong work in midfield from debutant Katie McKinley, Emma Weir and Emily Burgwin continued to pile the pressure onto the Students’ defence. Minutes later, Town’s persistence saw them snatch a short corner from an ill-timed stick tackle. A disguised slip to Burgwin on the edge of the circle paid dividends as she smashed it home past the flailing Students keeper to level the scores at 2-2.

As the half slipped by, the game represented a tennis match, with both teams fighting for another goal to kill off the opposition with the threat of penalty flicks constantly present. Late on the half, Students landed a string of short corners that they failed to convert. Captain Shana Featonby cleared the closest attempt off the line into the shin of the onrushing attackers to maintain the score line at 2-2 heading into the break.

In the second half, Town managed to take charge of possession within the game and reduced the Students’ attacking options. Centre-back Izzie Limb was infallible in defence and easily shut down the few advances that were made on Galpin’s goal. Town’s forwards were allowed to run riot, with Emily Hill and Georgina Godfrey producing breath-taking runs around the back of the Students’ defence. With just 15 minutes remaining on the clock, Town’s refusal to give up landed them another short corner – it needed to be now or never. The plan was to replicate the successful short corner of the first half, but a wayward injection to Izzie Limb meant she had to think on her feet. Limb slipped the ball to Godfrey, whose strong strike was deflected away by the keeper, only to find Town forward Hannah McCleery, who kept a calm head and slammed the ball home to give Town the lead for the first time in the game.

Town now just needed to see out the dying minutes without conceding to avoid dreaded penalty flicks. All hands were on deck from a defensive point of view and Town looked strong, almost scoring a fourth goal in their eagerness to press forwards. Galpin in goal for Town did her best to give the supporters a heart attack by kicking the ball straight to an advancing forward, needing a collaborative save from Limb and Galpin to preserve Town’s advantage. Town’s composure was not shaken and after what seemed like an age, the final whistle went and Town’s place in the final 16 was confirmed. The Ladies will now face Lindum Ladies 1st XI away on the 24th February for a place in the quarter finals of the competition.

Ladies  1st XI - 10/02/19: 3-2 winners in round 3 of England Hockey Investec Women's Tier  2 Champs
Categories: Match Reports