With all to play for, Pelicans needing to win by a clear 4 goal margin and anything less than that meaning group leaders Magpies would qualify for the next round, a hotly contested final round was expected. And with three quarters of the players on the pitch playing for Norfolk or Suffolk we weren’t to be disappointed. The quality and intensity were both high.
Both teams set themselves up to attack. Magpies, operating under the caretaker management of Clare Moodie and Mel Slade and interpreting the umpire-for-the-day-and-not-really-looking-forward-to-it-team-manger John’s hieroglyphics (crikey – spelt that right first time!) took two or three minutes to adjust to their self management and within ten minutes of end to end absorbing hockey with chances at both ends opened up the Pelis defence with a cross-cum-pullback across the D from Georgie C finding Ellen some 10 metres out on the left who calmly slotted perfectly into the far corner beyond the keeper.
With around 10 minutes gone, Georgie G limped off with a sore ankle and having failed to be provided with the what-to-do-when-one-of-your-strongest-players-gets-injured procedure the reserve team management improvised with aplomb putting on our most versatile trouble-shooter Bobby who, throughout the afternoon thereafter, popped up in all manner of places from sweeper to centre forward to either save the day or create genuine concern in the Pelis defence.
Despite several attacks the Pelicans defence was resolute and precise with several great tackles in their own D and no penalty corners conceded in the entire first half. This gave them a tremendous platform to counter attack and on one such they finally made the most of the Magpies attacking defence getting around them with a superb long range right to far left shot past Grace, who throughout the day was commanding of her D and defence.
Honours even at half time and the hope and expectation was that Pelicans would tire and Magpies, as in several of their previous games, would prove the stronger throughout and wear down their opposition. But it wasn’t to be with several Magpies tiring from their league efforts the day before and Pelicans pounced with a swift counter putting them deservedly in front.
And with 15 minutes to go Magpies tried to up the intensity even more. Georgie G, defying instructions from Framlingham High Command, brought herself back on finding it easier to run than walk! Bobby, Georgie C, Molly and the entire team went into overdrive and with 10 minutes to go another ball randomly bobbling all around the Pelis D again found Ellen in almost identical space who again slotted an even more precise shot home.
2-2 and it was anybody’s. And both teams gave it their all with, at the death, Ellen just missing a pinging ball across the D for her second hat trick of the season. At U14s that’s just a grounding for three weeks!
Both teams contributed to a high quality intense encounter and a draw was probably a fair result on the day. Pelicans will rue their early season performances and they were deservedly in the mix at the business end of the group.
Thankfully we enjoyed Pelis excellent hospitality after the game as I fear it would have been a waddle-over had it been before. Bar two players, Pelis U14 girls will be identical next year and will be a formidable opposition.
And thanks to our ever loyal supporters and most of all Clare and Mel for running the team today. I think they went for a good lie down after. Yes, all of them.
So at the end of the group stage despite not losing a game and beating Cambridge City, Magpies find themselves second in the group, so likely to face the tougher regional group on 2nd April.
The stats to date read as follows:
3-3 Norwich City – a game where we snatched a draw from the jaws of victory (3-1 up)
9-1 Bury – against a good young team we overwhelmed them before they could get into gear
2-1 Cambridge – a tough resolute backs-to-the-wall performance in which the better team did not win
9-1 Norwich Dragons – another game against a young team where the result belies the hard work and level to which Dragons made us rise to eventually win through
2-2 Pelicans – all out attack and a high quality entertaining (for the impartial bystander) game
Squad used so far: Grace R (GK), Alice W, Amelia S, Amy C, Beth M, Ellen P, Georgie C, Georgie G, Hattie R, Honey L, Holly H, Keira W, Lily R, Molly W, Olivia L, Tabitha B, Victoria S
Scorers to date
13 – Georgie C (+3 beyond permitted 8 gd)
5 – Ellen
3 – Georgie G (bar a stewards inquiry this could be +1 GG, -1 GC re Norwich tbc)
2 – Keira
1 – Alice
1 – Tabitha
P-5, W-3, D-2, F:25, A:8
Cambridge City 1st by 1pt, Magpies has the best league defensive record – not bad when you play just two at the back – and identical goal difference with Cambridge.