Fight to the very end for a plucky draw
By Stephen Tabb
Hulbert hat-trick helps team salvage a well-earned draw
The Lions went into this away fixture having had a lay off of about a month due to 1/2 term and the weather getting in the way!
However, with a strong looking squad, the team were hopeful of a positive result - but looked very sluggish in the first 10 minutes, and it was perhaps not a surprise that Berkswell took the lead having created one or two half-chances in he early exchanges. Berkswell turned the ball over during a Sils attack, and in a fast counter attack moved the ball around neatly to put their centre-forward through one-on-one with Jonnie Carter in goal and he finished expertly.
This goal spurred the Sils into action though, and Oliver Harris and Tomas Maidment began to use the ball more intelligently in midfield. With Flo Collins and Amy Garside putting in excellent defensive efforts, supported by the hard-working Lorna Brooks Scott, no further chances came for Berkswell in the half, and Sils got to attack a lot. Eva Robinson was working hard in attack, and in one attack she made it to down the right side to cut the ball back to Matthew Hulbert - who dragged the ball across onto his reverse, and fired past the GK - who got a stick to the shot, but was unable to stop the rocket of a shot.
The talk at half-time was to try and get the ball beyond the young adult playing in the middle of the pitch for Berkswell, but whilst the Sils had a lot of the ball in the first 20 minutes of the second half, they did not threaten that much, and this lack of conversion of pressure looked as it if might be the downfall of the Sils, as Berkswell scored two in quick succession - the first slightly fortuitous to be allowed due to a lifted shot catching Flo Collins on the arm before going on, but the second was a slick passing move leading to a very good finish by the Berkswell captain.
With 10 minutes to go, the Sils were two goals down, but Erica Adams and Alex Delaney chose this moment to follow the guidance of the coach. They combined on several occasions down the right hand side, with the overlapping Ollie Williams now marauding down the right to create numerous chances, and Tomas Maidment closing out any threats from the home team down the left allowing Sils to play higher up the pitch.
The non-stop running of Abby Richards down the left, and Kheya Ballentine-Brain through the middle meant that the home team never got any respite, and so it was not a surprise when Hulbert was able to score his second shortly after the Berkswell third goal to drag the Sils right back into it, skillfully pulling the ball across the D before placing the ball into the bottom corner of the goal. Now the only question was whether there was enough time to get an equaliser.
With 3 minutes to go, Robinson and Delaney combined again, and Matthew Hulbert was able to find some space to smash a shot goal-bound. The ball flew through the crowded D, and the keeper was slightly un-sighted so was beaten by the sheer pace of the shot, and as the ball made its way through the GKs defences he flung himself back to try and prevent the ball crossing the line, but was unable to. The equaliser had come, Hulbert had his hat-trick, and the team held out for a well earned draw.
After the game, Berkswell treated the players to some well-earned lollies and chocolates, the onlooking crowds were thanked for their support, and the voting for the Player of the Match showed how well the team had played as a whole, with Kheya taking the final vote, just pipping Eva (4 to 3), but with Jonnie, Alex, Erica, Tom, Ollie and Matt also getting votes. The improvements in this young team keep coming, along with the smiles!