Hampton pushed all the way
Youthful Sils give Hampton a shock
Next on the fixture list was a visit to high flying Hampton who are the highest scoring team in the league and were expecting an easy afternoon following the drubbing they dished out to Sils earlier in the season but this is not the same Sils that they played against then but one with more belief and purpose enthusing from all areas of the pitch.
As the game started it was an open affair with Hampton having the slightly upper hand playing some sweeping hockey trying to pry openings through the packed white ranks although the Sils forwards were making problems for Hampton with their quick breaks and flight of foot. Tammy was having to play in a more reserved role to cover the absence of Jess but this was countered by Lauren and Lily combining well down the left with Georgie Dalby playing just behind the forwards feeding off any loose balls to feed the forwards as they ran the channels well, opening up the centre for more direct thrusts. However, as Hampton settled they attempted to counter the deep runs with their sweeper operating around the top of the D and although not the quickest read the game well and was in the main able to hold play sufficiently for others to get back.
Meanwhile at the other end Claire Robinson was in command marshalling her young defenders into position as they were managing to counter the attacks that were reigning in and when the wall was breached Jo Brett was on hand to make a number of critical saves to keep the scores level. Short corners came and went being competently coped with by both defences and all was going well to 20 minutes into the half when a deflected shot seemed to find a forward in the melee of the D who managed get a mishit shot away which squirmed in at the post. A further goal was added shortly before half time as the defence was caught short on a counter attack and the ball was worked around the few defenders for a forward to shoot home.
As the side regrouped at half time belief that something could be got from the game and the renewed energy from Libby Shepherd was starting to show down the right as her electrifying pace was leaving the defenders in her wake with the goalkeeper being made to dive full length on a number of occasions to keep the goal intact she was helped on 3 or 4 occasions with last ditch defending as balls were unceremoniously hacked off the line by defenders from the shots coming in from either side as the Sils forwards made their presence felt.
Ruth had been held in a more defensive role to counter the Hampton forwards but as time went on she found space and time to link up with the attack linking the forwards well. But unfortunately, towards the end of the half Hampton sealed it with a further goal to take the game out of Sils reach.
It was a flowing game but also one of contact with Jo Brett getting a kick to the head and Frankie getting headbutted in the process but the girls stood up to the physicality and kept running to the end with Annabel Dalby having already run a cross country race in the morning still sprinting around late in the game.
With minutes left on the clock Sils were once again pressing the D and forcing Hampton onto the backfoot but for once the enthusiasm and frustration of Amy clashed with the umpire once too often and her first card of the season was flashed in her direction only to be allowed back on with seconds to go.
There are many positives to this game in that the team faced up to a very well drilled adult side full of confidence, made of goals and the young trio of Libby, Lily, and Annabel were not over shadowed and had a positive impact with their confidence growing week to week. The team have collectively come a long way since that earlier encounter and there is a growing air of belief that something great can come from this group of talented youngsters.
MoM: Votes were cast for Jo, Claire Ruth and Lauren which shows the impact the defensive unit had but eventually a joint award this week to the ever impressive Ruth Dovey and the growing starlet that is Lauren Hobday.
DoD: Fired up Amy Stainton back to her fiery best although a little too enthusiastic for the umpire this week gaining a green card for encroachment and back chatting, oops!