After a week of resting, (also known as spending the day looking irritatedly out of the window at the snow), we buoyantly met top of the league St Neots at Tring International Sports Centre.
St Neots 3's entered the league 2 seasons ago and have been promoted ever since, so are obviously still working out which division to call home. Despite this, Chops knew on our day we could push the unbeaten side and gave a stirring team talk. We were ready to do battle...
The first few minutes had Berko set deep in our own half but Annamarie, Zoe, Helen, Trish and Rebecca all defended strongly. But as quickly as we cleared the ball it came quickly back again, such was St Neots determination to go ahead early. Kelly had to charge out at one point and made a terrific save near the top of the D. "You'll have to flick it over this goalie" were the calls from their coach!
After settling a bit, it was our turn to have some runs at goal. Emily, Emma and Charlotte linked passes well and tested their defence. Our best chance came when Emma had the ball and was storming down the right wing. She drove into the D and found Zoe at the top, who expertly waited for their goalie to step out before finding Charlotte on the left post. We were unlucky to not find the back of the net, but were left feeling confident!
St Neots, feeling pressure from our forwards quickly countered - a great passing move saw a striker find the back of the net. 1-0. Unfortunately we then lost Jo to a twisted ankle and Liz to a thumb injury, so with only 1 sub left had to reshuffle our ranks.
At the half time whistle we all agreed that we were in this match, and in it we were! We started off strongly, linking great passes from midfielders Sophie H, Sophie L and Emma. But St Neots wouldn't go away and were soon feeling a bit more settled after their top goal scorer ran fast with the ball showing good skill, and scored. 2-0 but we still felt in this match. We won a flurry of short corners, and tested them each time. Rebecca went close, just missing the goal from a tight angle (doh!) but then here comes Annamarie... A magnificent straight strike fired into the back of the net (footage available on Facebook) and we were elated! 2-1!
Pumped and determined we continued to pressure St Neots. Emily with her trademark right wing runs curving into the D tested their defence again and again, with Chops and Charlotte creating good opportunities from Emily's hard work. The Sophei (that's much easier that typing out "Sophie L and Sophie H" oh no wait I just did type it out and wasted valuable typing time!!) in midfield drove the ball forwards with confidence, out skilling their markers and finding our strikers. In defence we saw off further waves of attack, Helen in particular having to mark a very nifty forward but doing so with great grit and skill. A few times I could see the striker couldn't work out just how Helen had dispossessed her!
A sideline in our 23 saw a quick passing move again from St Neots. Kelly came charging out and managed to put off the striker but the ball deflected up and looped back towards the net. Despite their best efforts to make sure of it and our best attempts at swatting it away out of danger: 3-1.
5 minutes to go and we hadn't given up. We maintained possession and linked good passes, communicating well and putting St Neots under pressure. A charge forwards again by Emma saw her find Charlotte in the D. The keeper charged forwards and Charlotte's shot was deflected sideways towards Trish, who was standing in the perfect position ready to slot the ball home behind the goalie. 3-2!! The final whistle went a minute later, and despite the loss we knew we had played well and should be proud of our performance against a very strong oppo.
Helen Savage was voted MOM by some margin, for valiantly making it difficult for the oppo's top scorer all game.