An atmosphere of nerves, anticipation and eagerness had descended on the group as we made ready to rebrand our style and deliver an aggressive 70 minutes to Bedford.
Pre-match we prepped right and hoped we understood our roles and responsibilities in the radical formation change up. The end result was something we've rarely seen from the L1s...
Hockey, proper hockey!! Passing, movement, intensity, structure, transfers...and a work-rate from everyone that had us calling to be rotated, legs aching and lungs bursting.
Within a few minutes of the start we had them pressed, having their play broken down with individual and pairs tackling in their half. The new structure was held and as we got more comfortable some delightful passages of play unfolded.
Not much led into the attacking circle however, but territory counts and a feeling of security set in knowing we couldn't concede from the other half.
That security was shattered as a break away from Bedford entered left-circle and developed toward Kimble. Clearly in the just the right zone today, Goalie Kimmy crunched the attacker making sure to take ball first, and the rear guard dutifully did the rest to keep the sheet clean for the time being.
More attacking play, dominating Bedford mid-park. A few short corners to defend later, and it was half time. 0-0.
The positivity was palpable in the huddle. Nothing but praise and a few extra instructions was required.
Panic! Loss of shape! Potential disaster, the plan looked flawed...for 3 minutes. Then we settled, regained structure and here's where it gets tasty...
Potts and Izamis, stalwart, with increasingly reliable distribution and transfers from the back. Giving Potton and Morton (H) the freedom to hold width and lead play higher. Centre field covered by Vere-Hodge front sweeping, Wetters bossing midfield with Walker holding higher and interrupting counter attacks before they even developed as well as laying off accurate passes and commanding the tempo of attack.
Goodwyn (Miss) kept high, pressed play, and developed some of our attacking runs down the left. Bennett out-skilled her marker, and the next, repeatedly. Right side attack was owned by Berko under her stewardship.
And the returning leader, Brydon. Always busy, penetrating runs and ball-carries, winning a couple of shorts for us to try to convert our pressure.
The bench of Krafft, Ware (L) and "Dennis" rolled in and out regularly, ensuring we maintained momentum and kept on top. Everyone, absolutely everyone turned up to the races. If ever there was a time for suspicion of something being put in the water, today was it. Something clicked and a buzz and hunger for a win drove everyone hard.
Then it happened. The goal. Brydon with the slip assist to Bennett who calmly waited for the keeper to commit, and push-flicked low right. The sideline of subs and loyal fans erupted.
After, it just got better and better. Short, accurate, weighted and timed passing. In triangles, moving to space after passing, driving the 23 and D, winning shorts when the shots weren't on...all the best bits of hockey were on display.
Three needed extra rest apparently, it was a tough run out, as we picked up greens for various infractions. Nothing serious.
Pressure absorbed and a few more runs at goal but an absence of shots being unleashed (our one area of improvement required - Gainer next week is going to rain terror on Potters Bar I'm sure!!)
And, full time. 0-1 victory. Our first of 17/18 (with more to come).
Man of the match was tied three ways between Kimble (GK), Morton and Bennett. The captain's casting vote landed the keeper with this week's accolade.
A superb game to watch and coach. Very proud of the group who played as a real team today, and executed the plan better than imagined (bar a few more goals for a safety net next week!!).