“The best players save the big performances for the most important games” Jaclyn Smith 2016
I have been looking forward to writing this report for two years…
It is safe to say that the first two playoff games did not quite go according to plan, a gritty point against Newcastle and five goals conceded against Pendle Forest, countered by Alderley Edge’s two wins meant there was only one promotion place left and three teams competing.
Weetwood was to host both of the final games, Adel made the short journey with only the omission of Sammy Gibson, still recovering from injury. The bench furthered strengthened by the addition of the new Men’s Head Coach Ben Hendley, who offered some wise worse and technical advice to the players as they rotated.
The game started with much more structure than the previous week, Alderley Edge looking to stretch the pitch base to base, side to side. Adel countered this by moving quickly and not allowing the space to open in dangerous areas. The best chance of the half falling on the 10 minute mark, the Edge player breaking into the area, only to be tackled by the diving McCall resting from club duties as Comms Co-ord, cleanly taking the ball and clearing the danger.
As the half rolled on, Adel would grow further in confidence, retiring Club Captain H.Goacher making solid tackles and distributing the ball well, Smith eventually enjoying time on the ball, reward for the distance covered pressing the opposition. Now Wood would find some space in the area to dispatch a reverse stick shot, diverted over the bar by the Edge keeper. This seemed to stir the Adel full backs, who now pressed higher and higher up the pitch, Jeavons covering as Byers crunched some tackles on the opposition 23m line, ensuring that the counter attack was thwarted before it had any legs.
Half time 0-0.
The second half started with a much higher intensity. New Club Captain A.Blyth and Social Secretary Hesselwood now asserting their dominance of the midfield area with crunching tackles, Bickley and Straughan now on either wing, comfortably rounding defenders and applying pressure towards the opposition goal. C.Goacher now at centre forward, feeding off the energy of the wingers, beating players herself to carve out some chances.
As the game entered Primal time, Adel moved up another gear. Membership Sec K.Blyth breaking out the midfield and providing the pass into the top of the area, Hesselwood receiving the ball, reverse roll out of the defender and a low hard reverse strike broke the deadlock to open the scoring. 1-0 Orange.
The news from the other pitch was that Pendle Forest had equalised after Newcastle’s opened the scoring. As things stood Pendle Forest were occupying the promotion spot.
Alderley Edge had now woken from their slumber and piled forward to assert pressure. Penalty corner after penalty corner proving fruitless as the clock ran down. Hairsine seeing a green card for a slightly mistimed but much needed challenge. Penalty corner 14 was cleared from the line from an alert Henry on the post. 4 minutes to go and penalty corner 15 of the game for Alderley Edge, finally clattered the back board, questions as to the height of the strike irrelevant as the score was now 1-1.
On the top pitch, Newcastle had restored their lead and their position in the final promotion spot.
Adel quickly reverted to two at the back, Love and Byers now responsible for all defensive duties as the team piled forward in search of the winner. Adel eventually managed to win their first penalty corner of the day, quickly followed by the final whistle. It was now or never…
5 friendlies, 22 league games, 1 tournament, 2 cup games, 3 playoffs, training, injuries, fitness, sun, snow, rain and wind (!) and here we go…
A crisp injection from C.Goacher, cleanly trapped by Byers. K.Blyth slipping the ball right to A.Blyth who carried the ball forward passing the ball back across goal. Player to player, current captain to future captain, sister to sister, the final touch of the 2015/16 falling to K.Blyth and more significantly she did what was needed and stuffed the ball into the goal to secure victory on the day and the potential of something much bigger. Final score 2-1.
On the top pitch, watering had delayed the game by five minutes. A goal for either team would see them promoted, the current score, the only one which would suite Adel. A penalty corner awarded to Pendle Forest at the final whistle, therefore removing Newcastle as contenders. The equations and potential outcomes now simplified into the final play of the 2016 playoffs, Pendle score and they are promoted, if they don’t it would be Adel to celebrate.
The outcome was eventually made obvious by Men’s Club Captain Paul Lewis and Club Secretary Rosh McEwan dancing down the path to the anxiously waiting team and support. By the absolute skin of their teeth, Leeds Adel Ladies’ 1st team were promoted.
The current playoff system is cruel and it is a shame that they exist at all, all four teams who entered breaking league records on their way to the competition. Unsurprisingly the competition was tough and all teams won and lost through the two week process.
The umpiring has been top class over the last few weeks and was only surpassed by the amazing support received from the sidelines for all three fixtures.
With MOM shared between 15 players, the first game of the 2016/17 calendar is sure to be a tasty one!
Photographs courtesy of Sophie Davies, top effort!