Rugby & EW 2nd XI 0 - 1 Old Silhillians 1st XI
By Stephen Tabb
Finishing the season with another clean sheet and three points
Rugby & EW 2nd XI 0 (0) - (1) 1 Old Silhillians 1st XI
Goalscorer: Sophie Boyle
A glorious Sunday afternoon greeted the league champions, and it was nice to play against a Rugby & EW side who were keen to play hockey, and not just try and stop Sils. The Sils travelled with a smaller squad than normal, with injuries to Caro and Annabel, and the Solihull School girls away on tour in Bath - Ruth was also arriving late due to children commitments!
So it was that Sils started with Hattie Evans playing in midfield, with Ursula also dropping into the midfield as well. This slightly alien set up meant that the home team started the stronger, and the first five minutes were spent in the Sils 23m area. However, with the defence working hard to keep the ball out, the Sils soon began to make inroads down the right, with the pace of Evans and Priya Majevadia causing the home defence problems. However, it was from the hard work of Maria Savage down the left that meant the Sils were able to turn the ball over and feed Sophie Boyle in the middle of the pitch, and she was given the space to drive into the D, and with the home defence backing off, the diminutive midfielder was able to get an early shot away, which found its way into the bottom corner. Sils were one up, perhaps a little against the run of play, but the goal visibly lifted them.
However, Rugby did not roll over, and they took the game to Sils, with the Copt Heath side causing a lot of their own problems with slightly rushed passes, and trying to beat the home team down their right side a little too much. With Rugby winning the ball on their right, they were then able to mount several attacks, but player of the match Sophie Williams won challenge after challenge as the ball was played forward, and when she was beaten, the unflappable Clara Miles was there to step in, meaning Jo Brett did have saves to make, but none that ever really caused any real threat.
With the introduction of Ruth Dovey down the right, the Sils began playing higher up the pitch, and the 10 minutes before half-time felt more comfortable for the Sils - however, with last week's second half turnaround in their thoughts, the Sils still needed to work hard in the second half.
This is exactly what they did, and whilst Rugby did mount a few telling attacks in the final 5 minutes of the game to threaten the Sils goal, most of the second half was spent with Sils probing and testing the Rugby defence and goalkeeper - though in reality, the team never really looked like scoring a second - the dry pitch not helping the Sils penalty corner routine much!
However, no further goals from either team, and the 1-0 win gave the Sils their 10th clean sheet of the season, the league title by at least 5 points, and promotion. Sils will also finish with one of the best two attacks in the lead (goals scored) and one of the best two defences (goals conceded).
This season has been been a great one - thanks to EVERYONE involved - particularly all the players, but also Dave for all his support, and all the parents who have also watched and supported. The Sils ladies section is in a great place moving into next season, and most importantly there have been a lot of smiles and laughs this year. Huge good luck and best wishes for those heading off/back to Uni - we will miss you! Now let us enjoy the dinner next week....(oh, and the England Hockey Awards in May!)