Tows away against table topping Olton!
1st X1 match report by Bex English!
This Saturday saw thirteen ladies donning their dazzling white away shirts to travel up the M6 to take on storm Gareth and Olton & West Warks hockey club.
Arriving in good time to a mixture of some carpool karaoke classics that were worthy of Cordon’s late late show and some inspirational memes on the WhatsApp from our captain Gemma, it was fair to say game faces and vocal chords were on point as we pulled into the grounds at Grange Road.
Stampeding out of the changing rooms from Tristan’s pre game team chat like the horses out of the gates at Cheltenham this week, we made our way to the warm up area with English and Whittle only mildly distracted by the discovery of a tennis ball resulting with it being winged past the left ear of Izzy. (The culprit yet to be confirmed and I believe Izzy is still looking for witnesses).
Ella and Whittle proceeded to lead the warm up in what can only be marvelled at. High tempo, slick, switched on; we were absolutely up for this and ready to take on the league leaders on their turf!!
“1, 2, 3, TOWCESTER!” The purple and white team huddle dispersed and the game began. READ MORE
The first ten minutes was a little frantic, and typical Towcester decided that we weren’t going to make it any easier for ourselves with some slightly wide passes thrown in for good measure to make sure they had a few attacking chances early on. However as the rest of the game would go on to demonstrate this would play out to be a game of end to end hockey against the odd 65mph wind gusts.
Within moments of some sizzling play up the pitch forcing an error from their defence we were awarded a penalty corner. If you had seen us training short corners on Thursday night you could be forgiven in not having the utmost faith on our conversion rate. However you’d be wrong. KP with her ninja like reactions (and Ella diving for cover) cool as a cucumber she slotted in the rebound and almost smiled. 1 nil us. Get innnn!
The crowd went wild! No, really- we actually had travelling supporters in the form of our illustrious but slightly crippled captain Gem, ex Tows junior Bryony and ex 1s player Princess who had sniffed out the old west mids derby action and keen to throw in some support our way!
As mentioned earlier, and you can ask any of the midfield and their legs, this really was a game of end to end hockey and before we knew it, there the ball was at the other end. A short corner routine from them that saw a deflection off a player on the post resulted in a goal. 1 – 1. Crap.
Both teams continued to battle. Back and forth and up and down, sometimes side to side and other times straight off the pitch. Pressure from both parties meant there was no let up and every single player from Towcester kept digging their heels in and produced some beautiful moments of hockey trying to pinpoint Fran who was circling the ‘D’ with a ferocious appetite.
Another wave of attack from them saw us suddenly trying to batten down the hatches again. Save after glorious save, Willers zig zagged through the air keeping the ball out beautifully. However, despite some well executed tackles from Mel and Izzy, and Lexie’s literal body on the line form of defence with a hand of god moment, a penalty flick was awarded. 2-1. Bugger.
The game continued at a high pace with the mid field of KP, Stina, Laura T working tirelessly together in the centre not giving Olton a second to think on the ball. This combined with some beautiful pick and drives from Lucy muscling off her counterpart and some seamless linking up and triangles work up (almost like we’ve been working on at training for the last 7 months) on the wing between Ella, Thompson and English meant the press was on as we edged closer to their ‘D’, and thanks to Whittle and Molly another short corner awarded.
This time the ball flung out to Whittle at the top who injected straight back towards the right corner and like a bird of prey swooping in the for the kill, Stina flew horizontal through the air seeing the ball into the back of the goal. 2-2. Yesssss Stina!!
Halftime came and off we ran to the end goal with packets of sweets (no one does oranges anymore) in hand before lining back up to take it to them for the last half.
The second half started as we had finished, with us strong out of the blocks and pushing them back into their half. Some well executed play and simple tenacity saw Stina convert the play into her second goal of the game. 2-3. C’MON TOWWWWS!
With renewed vigour play restarted and the whole half was played at a tempo that was setting us apart. Every tows player on that pitch today worked for each other, and the level of commitment was at an all time high. There were some nearly perfect crosses shooting through from KP, Ella and Mel all trying to target Fran, with a couple of lovely drives from Lucy and Stina again looking to get the ball to Fran so we could see some magic. However, none quite reached her stick today, not for want of the countless leading runs and spins Fran used to dodge and dive away from her defender.
Olton counteracted this by continually throwing players up high forcing us to drop back against the headwinds which was now beginning to team up with the lactic acid in our legs making running back at times look like slow motion through tar.
The clock entered the last 15 and after a period of continued attack from Olton we conceded a penalty corner. No need to go into any further details. 3-3. Hmm.
As the minutes closed in and the wind it felt pick up again, both teams fought defiantly. Lungs were heaving and the legs were tightening but we had made the trip up there to come away with points and weren’t going home without some.
The supporters were all up on their feet pacing the sidelines, cheering along.
Whistle gone. 3 all and an away point to Towcester!!
A real hard fought 70 minutes from us in white today saw us coming away with a point moving is up a place in the league table.
The only negative I can take away from today is that my skinny white jeans are no more. RIP white jeans.