This week, Harleston Ladies 3rds made the delightful drive up to sunny Cromer. A 1 o’clock pushback meant that it wasn’t a crack of dawn meet at the club, to the relief of some of the ladies. We all arrived, by some coincidence, in convoy, making sure to admire the fabulous view over Cromer and out to the North Sea.
After a short conversation about ‘what our dreams mean about us’, and Betsy enjoying the sight of the Soft Play things a little too much in the changing rooms, the ladies wandered out onto the rather unusual Cromer Sport Centre pitch. A ‘short but sweet’ team talk, covering the essentials as usual, by Leggy, meant that we were able to have an extra’ long warm up, which was much needed on this brisk January afternoon.
With only the bare 11, Magpies knew that we needed to conserve our energy in this 3rd in the league versus 4th position battle, and not long after the first whistle blew, the ball was moving fluidly throughout the middle 5, this week consisting of Phoebe Preece and Betsy in the screen, and Amy De-Selincourt, Katie Kinsella and Rhe Lascelles (who had just that morning told Leggy that she was ‘feeling goals’ coming today) in the centre 3. Amy DS and Phoebe Eglington, who made the step up from the ladies 4ths, linked up well on that right hand side, both using their sneaky skills to quickly get the ball into the attacking D.
With 15 minutes gone, a rapid counter attack saw the North Norfolk defence under sudden pressure from the Black and Whites, and with a lovely ball in from Phoebe Preece on the 25, saw Leggy get a sneaky reverse touch, bobbling the ball over her markers stick, for Laura Betts so sweep in off the left post past the keepers foot. A fabulous goal.
The North Norfolk team really upped their game, and caught us slightly off guard. A quick ball through penetrated our defence, leaving Holly to boldly fend off a 2 versus 1, unfortunately resulting in the attackers showing off their 3rd in the league prowess.
Magpies continued to battle on, and after a magnificent bit of play from Phoebe Eglington in right defence playing the ball through to Amy DS, who’s usual cool, calm, collected play found a foot in the attacking D. Right girls, here’s our chance.
With the absence of Lucy, Amy stepped up to drag out the short corner. A lovely direct ball out to Leggy at the top, with Sophie M-A, Katie K, Rhe and Betsy ready for any deflection, gave Legg the perfect opportunity for a smasher…. And a smasher it was. That ball flew off her stick and past the opposing keepers right foot, 2-1.
With the few remaining minutes of the first half, the 3rds were down to 10 after the flash of a second card was shown to a magpie. Despite this, we managed to defend off the reoccurring attack, ensuring we kept out lead into the second half.
The feeling of a long second half doomed upon us, and we were glad that our opposition only had the eleven players too. Rach Baynes, Amelia Hershell-Shoreland and Phoebe Eglington continued fighting hard to build that wall in front of Holly, and we made it extra difficult for our opposition to find their stride. A rare defensive short corner was given that unfortunately we couldn’t fend off. The score line was tied, but you could tell both teams wanted to come away with more than 1 point to their names.
An iffy few minutes for the Harleston side meant all players were drawn back into the defensive 25, and with hits and bruises happening left, right and centre, both sides were running out of time and energy to secure their wins.
The tense atmosphere was really brought to light when the usually cool Rachel Baynes didn’t get back up from her tumble on the back line. We knew something wasn’t right, and from then on, the fight for 3 points only got more gruesome. With Magpies down to 10, our defensive game was on. Leggy, who had only just stepped back into the centre defence role (remember back her Ladies Development days once again), took a rather nasty ball to the ankle, followed almost immediately by a stick to the arm (which is now a lovely sickly green, purple and yellow colour), Rhe Lascelles had a nasty hit to the hand and Katie K took a tumble after going in for a close ‘shave’. The final whistle couldn’t have come any sooner, and with the score tied at 2-2, Magpies were glad that they had got that 1 point.
Rachel Baynes was whisked over to Cromer hospital to find out her fate, and, rather surprisingly, she had had her two x-rays and had been plastered up by the time we’d reached team teas! A nasty fracture and dislocation of her wrist means that Rachel will sadly be out for the foreseeable future of this season. We will miss her fabulous defensive skills, and her ecstatic, bubbly warm up techniques. We will miss you Rach and we all wish you a speedy recovery.
Next week, Harleston Ladies 3s are back at home with a 12.00 pushback on the water against 10th positioned I-ES 1st team.
wo-Man of the match: Laura Betts