With the busy summer hockey schedule over, the attention of Leeds Adel Ladies’ 1s turns to preseason and the upcoming league season. The team have ambitions for the season ahead having entered cup competitions, needed some tough friendliest for preparation. Local rivals Ben Rhydding, the only team to claim victory against the 1st team at AWMA on the new pitch, were worthy opponents.
Leeds Adel prepared a very different looking side to that which finished off last season, with only six of the regular side of 14/15 in the 13 players for the game. Three Player Development Programme students coming in, Bickley, Straughan and Jeavons, having impressed in the summer leagues as well as long awaited returns from Wood after a four year absence and Hurst in goal following a season long injury.
The game started in a rather cautious manner, both sides trying to claim control, and not as frantic as would have been expected for early season. Both defences looking calm in possession. However as so characteristic of Adel, the midfield slowly started to take control of the middle of the pitch. The pace and directness of A.Blyth and H.Goacher supported at centre half by Staff, moving possession higher up the pitch. Bickley, K.Blyth and C.Goacher as expected, terrorising half backs, and with the injection of Straughan and Wood, the Ben Rhydding defence were starting to become exposed.
The breakthrough coming half way through the first half, another ball breaking loose in the midfield, Blyth sisters combining as they often do, forward facing movement and pace, some slick passing through the front players, finally finished by A.Blyth. 1-0, deserved, but still more work to do.
Ben Rhydding started to venture forward now needing to find a goal. Henry, Byers, Gibson and Jeavons protecting the goal of Hurst, who was more than comfortable when called upon. The solid defence also stepping forward to support the attacking play, allowing freedom for the midfield and forward line to chaos. Another flowing open play move ended with C.Goacher beating the keeper only to see her shot stopped by a defending body on the line. Although not deliberate, the appropriate decision was made, and captain A.Blyth converted the resulting penalty stroke.
Half time welcomed by both teams, somewhat short of match fitness in the glorious sunshine. After catching their breath, a quick drink, some words from an excited coach Ransley and some more constructive instructions from Ben Hendley, Adel were ready to resume.
So early in the season, the quality of the second period was never going to match that of the first half. After a slow start from both sides, sporadic chances failed to materialise. Bickley picking up a two minute suspension for a slightly mistimed challenge, more a reflection on the team for some previous loose challenges. This was soon matched with a Ben Rhydding green card, for the same offence. Ben Rhydding finally found the net mid way through the half, finishing from close range.
Whilst never wanting to concede, this was just what was needed to lift the game again, Adel now starting to create chances to finish the game off, Wood rounding the keeper but thwarted as the keeper managed to get back to the line in the nick of time. The game needed finishing off, and yet again A.Blyth finishing a game, with her hat trick, another open play goal showing how quickly these players have gelled.
The game finished 3-1. Plenty to work on, but lots of positives to take from the game. A perfect preseason friendly. Next up York on Tuesday evening, two leagues above, so another tough game
Thanks to our umpires, Jim Cockburn and Bridget Petty, who will represent Adel in the neutral scheme this season. Rich Bingham counting stats from the bench and the Adel crowd, who were rewarded for coming up, with a great game of hockey.
MOM- Sammy Gibson, a solid and experienced performance beyond her years. To take the award away from a player scoring a hat trick from midfield, just shows how much this team appreciate good defensive work.
Hockey Pig- Emma Bickley, the first player to fall foul of the new rules with a two minute suspension, a very very slight blemish on a fantastic forward display of pure pace and flare.