Finally after two cancelled fixtures the team gathered Sunday morning for a trip to Liverpool to take on Vikings IOM. The comprehensive missing list for the fixture included some big names Captain K.Blyth, Leadbitter, Bickley, Gannon, Wood and Hesselwood who was finally diagnosed with a broken back after playing three games following a fall. Love was to take charge of what would be a spirited and determined team effort with numerous players playing some strange positions and a debut for Akerman, who was hoping to carry her fantastic form so far this season up into the 1st XI.
Whilst this may have been billed as a battle of Centurions vs Vikings, the pitch resembled something more akin to the Somme, a thick layer of mud ensuring that ball speed would be somewhere between non existent and slow for the majority of the game.
Adel’s new look middle three consisted of Gibson, Straughan and Love, all three moving out of the back line for the first time this season. Usual faces of Smith and Wright were joined in the front line by another usual defender Shields. These six were supported by a more usual looking back line of Akerman, Hairsine, Fowdon and Taylor and McCall took charge of the net.
Jones who managed to safely navigate her way out of the Lake District would be introduced early to offer a rest to the busy midfield. However before she got her chance to taste the action, Adel were rocked by an early Vikings goal inside the first five minutes whilst under a lot of pressure. Adel slowly but surely started to organise themselves, the experience of the team coming through and working together started to hold possession further up the pitch. The first penalty corner converted for an equaliser, a predetermined move and a sliding finish from Wright, scores level and the team continued to improve.
Subsequent penalty corners went close but not converted, Smith unlucky as her shot was slightly too high and rippled the net. Adel continued to lift the tempo, and further chances not converted. On the stroke of half time Vikings nearly took the lead, the forward running through one on one must have heard about about ‘bonecruncher’ McCall and took a rather wide berth, allowing Hairsine to get herself goal side of the ball, whilst the swinging stick cracked her across the back, everyone was happy to see the scores level at half time.
Despite the conditions, the team were determined to try and inject a little more quality into the game, as the ball moved a little more swiftly the gaps started to open. Straughan now running at the retreating defence, avoiding swinging sticks as she ran the gauntlet to the top of the area. Worrying times as she was carved down onto the unforgiving surface, ‘she slipped’ the call from the official as play carried on! Battered and bruised the team pushed on, another penalty corner and another goal, Smith with an unnecessary deflection on a goalward shot, but you have to take what you can!
As the half pushed on the team reshuffled with injuries from flying hits to Taylor and Shields. However the scoreline remained static and the defensive heavy team saw the game out holding onto their lead. Some heroic defending and McCall making several fine saves. At the other end Smith had another disallowed goal, and the team went close on several occasions. 2-1 winners after successfully defending an overtime penalty corner.
The victory means the team move forward into R3 of the Investec Women’s Trophy. However the victory signifies the progress made by the club overall over the last three seasons, Akerman’s debut marking the 26th player used in the 1st XI this season, and with several senior players missing, the team organised themselves and helped each other through a tough game in tricky conditions.
Many thanks to the large travelling support of Flo Mo, Mrs G, Big Trev and Brinkley. NHUA, the appointed umpires, Liverpool CC (top teas) and Vikings for a tough and competitive match.
MoM- Flo Straughan. Took the game to the opposition and rode some horrendous tackles, a super second half performance only tainted by a quick trip to the sin bin!