A positive and eager Berko arrived at Sunny Aylesbury looking to replay the textbook game of the week before. After adjusting to the very bouncy water based pitch, they were ready to press hard and attack from the off.
They took heed of practice on Wednesday, taking time to build the play and work the ball up the pitch. However Aylesbury were very sharp with their tackling and speculatively launching the ball up the pitch. With some tenacious efforts from Faye, Berko quickly turned defensive positions into attacking and were passing and moving the ball from defence through midfield, trying to find Leanne, Anneke and Mel on the front line.
Frustrations ensued with Aylesbury defending well and clearing all of Berko's attempts at goal. Their goalie was on fire, with no shot too much effort to save. Aylesbury were also proving super speedy on the counter attack, forcing Stef to turn heel and chase play back up the pitch. With Kate, Emma and Ann working as a unit to move and switch the ball, Berko kept tight defensive positions. However Aylesbury loaded the D and were able to make a few shots on target. Kelly was on her usual powerful and reactive form, allowing nothing past moving into half time.
At Sarah's half time talk it was clear Berko needed to reset, the score line remaining 0-0, they couldn't be defeated. With Stef admitting that in fact Emma tried to sabotage her astounding game by smacking Stef's toe, the team had a positional shake up to allow Stef to come off the pitch. Helen was put into high attacking sweeper, and Sarah came back into midfield. A fantastic start to the second half, Berko were swiftly awarded a short corner. Practice making perfect, a strong injection from Leanne, to Anneke at top D, she drove it home to bring Berko into the lead. From the reset Berko intercepted Aylesbury's ball and Mel was able to do one of her world-famous driving runs down the right wing, storming the D and putting pressure on Aylesbury defence. To her frustration, the goalie was quick to anticipate and she couldn't find the back of the net.
With a lot more short sharp passing and Helen putting hard pressure on the opposition at any given moment, Berko were counter attacking towards the D again with Kate storming down the right, trying to find Mel.
Berko got another short corner, and, another goal! This one came as the ball deflected off Leanne's stick, Anneke was able to flick it into the goal past the very perceptive goalie.
Berko concentration started to fade, settling into the 2-0 scoreline. Unfortunately, Aylesbury made use of this lapse in concentration and capitalised. Aylesbury won a short corner (a Potts 'Drogba' boot in the D - should she lose fantasy points?). However, again, showing their short corners are becoming a strong factor in their games, the ball was cleared out of the D. Faye received the ball from Ann on the left and proceeded to work the ball up the pitch with some fantastic 1-2's with Helen.
Falling foul to the awfully slippy pitch, Faye ended up on her backside. Grappling to get up and to keep the ball, the opposition player took the ball, and Helen came charging in to win it back. It unfortunately deflected off a stick and catapulted straight into Helen's eye, ending her game. This meant Stef had to come back on, and Berko soon found themselves on the wrong side of Aylesbury.
With strong and decisive tackling from Debs and Maria in midfield, they were able to break down Aylesbury possession with ease. However this was short lived and another 3 or 4 short corners in succession were given to Aylesbury... and as law of averages states, they unfortunately scored and gave Aylesbury a real confidence boost. This panicked Berko, and all composure and simple hockey went out the window. Rushed, panicked balls were intercepted by a confident Aylesbury who were able to find the back of the net for a second time.
With 2 minutes left to play, Berko had to do something. They passed the ball up the pitch, Sarah dogged in centre mid really pushing for that most needed third goal. Despite the efforts, and the 3 short corners in the dying seconds of the game, Berko could not convert and ended the game a disappointing 2-2.
Man of the match was to Faye for a hard working attitude and tenacious game. Goals were both from Anneke.
Well done team, a hard lesson learnt to draw on next week.