On the Saturday our first match v Beeston finished in a frustrating defeat. The opposition were very big and physical. After a few minutes our captain (Bryony Lund) suffered a nasty hand injury when trying to tackle Beeston’s most dangerous player. This turned out to be a broken bone. Beeston took a half time lead and Magpies were struggling. However, we were to suffer two disallowed goals (both over rules after a goal had been given) which would have equalised the score. Within a few seconds of the 2nd one we were 2 – 0 down. Beeston added a 3rd to give them a flattering scoreline.
Magpies picked themselves up to outplay Surbiton. Amy Brook had a strong match at left defence against their England U18 forward. Cherry Seaborn worked very hard setting up Verity Blyth for one goal and Verity added another from a corner. However, this match was marred by another horrible accident – Jazz Bartlett breaking her arm in a fall. Magpies held out despite a late Surbiton goal for a vital 3 points.
The Magpies team then spent a nervous few hours waiting for 2 of their team to come back from hospital. The news was not good. The added loss of Cherry (because of exams) meant that we were going into the second day severely depleted.
Sunday morning arrived with Jazz in a plaster cast and Bryony with a swollen hand but determined to play. The girls were lifted by this news and turned in a superb performance. Emily Wilford was excellent, scoring a hat trick and narrowly missing several other efforts at goal. Cali Clark was also outstanding in goal, keeping out a string of short corners to earn Magpies a 3-1 win. Bryony suffered another injury this time getting hit in the face.
Beeston meanwhile were winning all of their matches to finish top of the group. Magpies went into their last match (v Clifton) knowing that a point would put them into the semi finals. We started well creating a string of chances. However, it was one of those games were everything went straight at the keeper. Magpies started to get tense and frustrated. Clifton took the lead from their only chance of the 1st half. Finally 5 minutes into the second half Magpies pulled level when Amy Brook flicked in a rebound from a short corner. Further injury worries came with Lauren Barber getting hit in the face. However, Verity calmed our nerves with a decisive short corner strike. Laura Tibbenham and Becca Banham put in a super effort over the last 10 minutes to help give Magpies another 3 points and the reward of a semi final against Belper.
This match sapped a lot of energy and confidence from the squad but as you can see from the team photo below we still kept our sense of humour. Indeed the whole injury situation helped in a strange way to create a Magpies v the World team spirit.
A careful game plan was agreed to stop Belper from dictating the game. Against a team of 5 internationals Magpies played a very disciplined counter attacking strategy. The Belper full backs started to play over ambitious passes which we intercepted. Lucy Chubbock narrowly missed a great chance to put Magpies ahead. Meanwhile Cali was busy keeping out all of Belper short corner variations. Belper managed to scramble in a goal from short range but Magpies hit back with Verity sweeping in a cross from Bryony after a brilliant dribble past 2 players.
Belper had seemed to run out of ideas and Magpies were deserving of the 1-1 half time score.
The second half was dramatic with Lauren Barber making an incredible head high clearance with her stick from a short corner. A 16 yard restart awarded by the umpire to Magpies became a penalty flick after a Belper protest. Cali produced a brilliant diving save to keep the scores level. Belper then started to get on top and scored twice. Incredibly Magpies found reserves of energy to get back in the game. A short corner was powered in by Verity to bring the score back to 3-2 with 3 minutes left. Magpies pushed for an equaliser which would have taken us to penalty flicks and the brink of a huge upset. However, Belper scored from a superb short corner in the last minute. As parents and coaches we all felt very proud of our girls. They did themselves and the club proud and could not have given any more effort. England Hockey recognised this on their website today. Click here to go to report.