The sun was shining brightly, spirits were high and there were positive vibes all around the dressing room as the Ladies 3rd team prepared for their vital match away against Welwyn on Saturday. There were lots of different scenarios that could occur over the weekend, promotion was still an option if Blueharts failed to win away at Bedford, but most importantly the Ladies 3's needed a convincing win.
Our guest celebrity goal keeper, Dame Vicky Stanwell OBE was truly moved by the inspirational pre match team talk from Captain Chops. The advice was simple, keep possession, pass the ball quickly, relax and enjoy the game. Don't worry about Blue Herts, just go our their and do our bit. Vicky was so moved that she instigated a rousing round of applause before the match had even started. The pitch surface was very smooth and colourful unlike the dull beach that we play on at home and it clearly inspired the Ladies 3's as they pressured Welwyn early on. A short corner was quickly awarded and Sophie Lawrance smashed a shot that was stopped near the line. Rebecca Wells snatched at the rebound and saw the ball go agonisingly wide. Further chances came and went before Chops and Liz were rolled onto the pitch. Sadly for poor Liz she was rolled straight off the pitch moments later after a late challenge saw her writhing on the floor in agony with an injured knee. There was a lengthy stoppage and a drinks break in the blistering heat before play resumed with a bully-off. Some of the younger members of the team were unsure what a bully-off was so Chops had to step in to show them what it involved. Sophie L said it reminded her of her school days hockey.
Berkhamsted continued to have all of the possession and went close when Emma ran down the right wing and crossed for Charlotte but it wasn't to be on this occasion. When the opening goal did come it seemed to be in slow motion. A short corner was slipped to Sophie who neatly found Chops. 'Don't let her wind up for a shot' shouted the keeper who clearly was unaware that Chops has the weakest shot in the ladies section. But everyone stopped expecting the power shot, so Chops took advantage and dribbled forward before placing a weak and feeble shot into the corner. 1-0 to Berko. We continued to press and could have had a second when Emily found Chops on the edge of the D. She nipped past a couple of players and with only the keeper to beat managed to put the ball wide.
Poor Liz was waiting patiently for her hero husband Jamie to arrive and take her to hospital, so she was unable to join in the half time team talk. We decided to keep the pressure on and get that vital second goal. We didn't have to wait for too long, some smart work by Kate found Chops in the D and she scored her second goal suddenly throwing the leading goal scorer trophy up in the air as it meant that Kate/Charlotte and Chops all had 5 goals each for the season. Before you mock our low scoring record, remember that we have conceded the least goals of any team on the whole of the 5 Counties league. We just share our goals out.
There has also been an immense battle at the top of the fantasy league between Annamarie and Rebecca which took an interesting twist on Saturday. A short corner was awarded. 'I'll come and set you up for your hatrick' said Annamarie to Chops. Chops slipped the ball to Annamarie and was eagerly awaiting the return pass to complete the first hatrick of her esteemed and long career. 'I'm here, Annamarie, I'm here'. But Annamarie saw that fantasy league trophy glinting at her and she smashed an unstoppable shop into the back of the net, 3-0 to Berko.
With 8 minutes left, Chops subbed herself to have a little chat with Deb Walker who had arrived to watch her daughter and two goals were then scored in quick succession. Firstly, Emily zoomed into the D, her shot hit the post and Kate was on hand to smash in the rebound. Then with 3 seconds left on the clock, Charlotte (who really deserved a goal) ran into the D and calmly passed the ball into the net. Final score 5-0.
There was not too much for Dame Vicky to do today, she was well protected by Zoe, Patricia, Annamarie and Rebecca but her clam presence was reassuring and its always good to have a celebrity in the team. There was a bit of faffing over the end of match photo, teas were delicious and we had completed out task of winning our match. Jo Fisher bravely agreed to drive Jamie's car back to Berko to save players from camping out before our match in Saffron Walden tomorrow.
The news came through later that Blue Herts had won their match, so they would be promoted but we are not despondent. We are proud of our efforts in this league and will aim to ensure we win our last two matches to go out on a high.
Player of the match was close but it went to Chops for her 2 goals and her general nagging on the pitch. This motto found in the Welwyn clubhouse sums her up very well.