On a drizzly Wednesday afternoon, EULHC 3s were defeated 2-0 by EULHC 4s in the BUCS Conference Cup, seeing the 4s march on into the semi-finals.
This was their second meeting in seven days, having met a week ago in the league with the 3s running out 3-1 winners. Determined to make it 2 wins from 2, the 3s took the upper hand with a strong start, penning the 4s in and transferring the ball well around the D. However, the 4s with a defence made up of Kate Moreton, Harriet Castle, Addie Hollows, Abbi Scarr kept their shape and marked the attackers out of the game as they weathered the early storm.
The 4s grew in confidence on the attack as the first half progressed. A low cross fizzing across the face of goal provoked Luisa von Rotenheim to make a quick reaction save from close range.
freya davies squeezed in a low cross to give the 4s a deserved lead
While the threes continued to dominate possession and territory, they were unable to penetrate the D, while the 4s looked increasingly dangerous on the break thanks to some powerful runs down the wings.
With the game finely poised, a strong passage of play by the 4s was rewarded with the opening goal, as Freya Davies got on the end of a low cross from the right to squeeze a deflection underneath the goalie, sneaking past her right foot and trickling across the line.
The 3s immediately tried to respond. Growing pressure saw Hollows step out of defence to make a crucial tackle for the 4s, with left and right backs Moreton and Scarr constantly forcing the 3s attacks inside.
The 4s defence was finally breached, as the threes transferred the ball from left to right quickly allowing Saskia Carter to find space behind the defence, and force 4s goalkeeper Samantha Evans into a reaction save down to her right.
Undeterred, the 4s struck back with a fast attack, leading to the second goal. A moment of brilliance from Tash Reed saw her superb upright reverse hit fly past von Rotenheim, doubling the 4s advantage.
tash reed’s superb reverse hit flew in to double the 4s advantage
The games’ momentum had clearly swung, and the 4s won a penalty corner, which forced another good save from von Rotenheim. With the 3s looking increasingly rattled, the 4s began dominating midfield with intricate play by Ellie Lawrence and Jodie Fraser. The 4s engine room established a strong foothold in the match, with much of the game being played in the middle third as the half drew to a close.
The second half started as expected, with 3s midfielder Polly Beale leading by example in applying pressure to the 4s defence. A head injury forced Kate Morton off for the 4s, leaving them with a makeshift defence, and inevitably calling Evans into action by making a strong save from Carter.
The pressure on the 4s defence was intensifying, as Indy Cockroft won a penalty corner. With the ball fired into the D, the ensuing goal mouth scramble saw the 3s finally find the goal, however their celebrations were cut short with the umpire spotting an offence in the chaos.
The rest of the second half was played out in the 4s half as they dug deep defensively, with goalkeeper Evans making a string of fine saves, as the 4s kept a strong shape and pressed the ball well. While the leaders had several perilous counter attacks, including two one-on-ones with von Rotenheim making excellent saves, they were unable to find a third as the game finished 2-0 sparking celebrations from the girls in white.
Speaking after the game, coach Manton-Jones was delighted:
“A superb win for the girls. Everyone played well today as a team and every single person put in 110%. We’re very happy with the performance and win today”.
The 4s travel to face Bath 2s for the semi-final on March 2nd, surely taking great confidence after this fine result.
Report by Matt Merrett