Over 55 Ladies in great game v Redlands
Published on 20th Mar, 2023
It was a clear sunny day in Oxfordshire as in different parts of the County groups of O55 hockey players gathered to set off on a road trip to Redlands. Where is Redlands you may ask? Well, it's a club based in Bristol, and armed with detailed maps and instructions from the opposition there was no chance of anyone getting lost. A Witney car met at Linda's with Sally, Jenni and Katie with delicious cake; Rebecca impressively arranged her Mother’s Day celebrations in Bristol by bringing her mother and having a three-generation breakfast before the game; Angie drove in and then off to other commitments, and the rest of us at BRN split into two cars and headed down the M4.
So as everyone found changing room 2 the first mission was accomplished. A team with shirts in the correct colours and no-one had forgotten anything. A sociable member of the opposition had mentioned on the walk to the changing rooms that they were the defending champions and not surprisingly they were clearly quietly serious about defending their title. so, starting line up and complicated subbing plan communicated we determined to go out and rain on their parade.
We won the toss and elected to take first push back. Rebecca Black started as we all had intended and in the first move had a hard shot that hit the side board but told then that we meant business. Redlands were an organised, fit and strong side who started to pass the ball well through the gaps in our defence and it took a while for us to settle and close them down. Fortunately, Katie swept up the loose balls at the back and Linda made her usual saves and watch the ball fly past the covered post with great judgement on a number of occasions. It was not all Redlands however and a tireless midfield mustered by Sally kept supporting the forwards in building attacks, however the long balls were being intercepted and the final pass and shots did not result in a goal.
It was on one of Redlands attacks that the umpire gave a flick to Redlands. Although Linda was beaten a committed Katie was on the line however despite protestations the umpire deemed it to have been the correct decision and we were a goal down. Fired up and looking for the equaliser some pressure was put onto the Redlands goal with a series of short corners won. Their defence was up to the challenge though and with seconds to go Redlands broke through and scored in the last play of the half. Was it a third-party obstruction? Linda certainly thought so but the umpire disagreed and there was no further discussion and there was palpable disappointment at half time as when we were 2 goals down when the half had been a much closer game than that.
But it is a game of two halves and we set out to get some goals back and make the trip worthwhile. It was not going to be easy, but we had it in us to do it. Yet again the start of the half was ours and we were finding the forwards with short and longer passes and were beginning to link better between defence and midfield. It was Redlands however who found a streak of form and converted two good goals in the space of a few minutes to go 4 goals clear and the game looked as though it was over. In true Eagles style however we did not give up and with a great team move with the ball transferring across the pitch and through midfield Angie was set on her way. Quick and direct she beat two defenders to the ball and then took on the goalie. Some of us may have thought she had taken the ball to far over but no, feet round she coolly slotted it into the net, and we were competing again. Not a bad finish for a netballer! With Redlands slightly rocked the momentum swung to the Eagles and for a period we were pressurising the Redlands circle. A short corner was won and after a shot on goal it was Angie again who took the final touch to squeeze the rebound over the line.
Stung into a reaction however it was Redlands who countered and before too long they had found the gaps to score again as we pushed for another goal. The final whistle went with everyone pleased that we had given them a match to remember. We wish them well in their semi-final.
Back in the changing rooms there were tired smiles but happy chatter in the showers. Most of us set off to the pub for beige food (fish finger sarnies and chips) supplemented by delicious chocolate cookies, and a chat before heading home.
A huge thank you to everyone who changed their Mothering Sunday plans in order to play, gave up Arsenal tickets, played recovering from COVID and drove the distance only to be beaten. Despite the result the commitment, camaraderie and positive spirit on the pitch and off it did the team proud. We are looking forward to next seasons competition already with hopefully some additional younger legs to join us!