Sils dominate from the off
By David Brett
Defence paves the way as Sils win away
Seemingly everything was against the team as road closures led to an interesting journey to the venue with whatsapp working overtime to keep up with the chatter but eventually everyone found a way through to Henley for the latest encounter and a rejig of the formation as Jess strived to find some goals.
Sils took off at a fast pace applying good pressure gaining a succession of short corners although as the first injection bobbled over the waiting block this was a sign of the difficulties ahead on a slow bumpy pitch that players of today rarely encounter. Stratford were energetic and posed the usual problem of quick counter attacks although for once the backline were able to deal with everything coming their way in the opening encounters.
The forwards were finding room and shots were being applied although were either sailing past the post, evading incoming sticks or hacked away by some desperate Stratford defending. But the deadlock was broken as Elle playing in a more forward role than usual found herself in the D and calmly stroked the ball home after good work by Frankie who held the play up well despite being surrounded by defenders.
Another first team debut allowed Georgie Chapman to come into the team and seamlessly applied her trade efficiently and effectively helping to secure the defence further. Right on half time Stratford managed to gain their first short corner of the game which was immediately charged down by Emma who was busy marshalling the defence throughout, but this was quickly turned into an attack as a creative move of flowing hockey saw Libby pick up the ball at pace and bringing Frankie and Tammy into the game and following a slipped pass by Issy to Ruth who hurtled into the D to increase the lead.
As half time came Jo in goal was thawed out having little to do and Jess’s team talk shocked everyone in that she was happy with events, but demanded more of the same. Stratford did apply more initial pressure and with nothing to loose had a more open play about then forcing two early short corners which were competently dealt with by the Sils defence. EJ was relishing her new anchor role and was quite happily blocking tackles and playing the ball out to the wide midfield speedsters who started the attacks rolling again with Annabel and Lauren both having space on either side of the pitch. The forwards were still hammering away at goal to no avail and the dominance would not seemingly be rewarded but Tammy spying the opportunity, picked the ball up on the 25 and sprinted into the D where she was picked up by a defender and unceremoniously pushed wide but off balance and teetering on one leg the Captain led by example and unleashed a terrific hit through the defenders and unsuspecting keeper into the far side of the goal for yet another scintillating goal.
As Sils continued their dominance there was an inkling for more goals and needless to say got caught out on a counter as Jo was suddenly faced with the ball and two attackers bearing down on her without a white shirt in sight. As she burst into life and booted the ball to safety the cavalry arrived back and all was once again safe and well. The forwards were still creating chances up front and chances went begging but overall a good performance in cold conditions.
Plenty of positives to take from the game new players coming in and gelling quickly whilst the squad is gaining in their confidence and own ability with players realising that they can at last play in a number of other areas and not just their favoured slot. Next up is league leaders Uni Birmingham so should be a good test to see how far they have all improved.