Part 2 of the weekends fixtures saw Berko ladies 3's travel to Essex's answer to the Sahara desert, the Joyce Frankland Academy astro in Saffron Walden. With promotion now just out of reach the 3's were much more concerned about what the oppo had planned for teas, and were pleased to learn from a very friendly lady who opened up the clubhouse that lasagne and garlic bread awaited after the match. Every cloud...

After some intensive limbering up our 11 aching players started the first half, and we started pretty sleepily. We were set back in our defensive 23 by a determined oppo side who tested our defence and keeper Kelly early doors. We managed to hold them off but struggled to get the ball up the pitch as Saffron Walden were simply quicker to the ball. But after settling, we managed to find some form and Annamarie made some great passes to our forwards. Charlotte had a great run on goal, however unfortunately a bloomin' keeper was in the way and we were denied. Kate and Chops also had some great link ups, and made their defence work to keep us out.
With now constant end to end play, Ellie and Evie, (in their first 3's match this season), performed well by helping to break down counter attacks, while Sophie L at centre mid made a few storming runs into the D and regularly found our forwards to set up good chances. We held off a few short corners, the defence treasuring every second stood still in the goal before having to move again, but the oppo were not going away. Soon a few quick passes from yet another counter attack and they were in the D, their shot just creeping past Kelly. 1-0.
Emma Walker then arrived after her county match nearby, and we were delighted as it meant one of us got a rest for a few mins! With all the energy of a Labrador puppy, Emma sprinted up the pitch with the ball and drove fiercely into the D. Their defence though, stood firm.
At the break Chops reminded us all that we could do better, and we must try harder. As always she was right, and we knew we couldn't let our heads drop and limbs burn out. We must fight! We mixed up the formation, with Jo moving to centre mid, Ellie to right back, and Sophie L to left mid. It worked and soon we felt on top with good passes and movement. Zoe stood firm in defence against anything that came back down the centre, and Ellie, Emma and Kate linked up nicely on the right. Annamarie and Rebecca also worked well as a defensive pair, stopping any threats coming down the left. Unfortunately at the other end after winning what was to be our only short corner, Rebecca fluffed the injection and madly tried to block the oppo from getting to the ball before Emma could come and drag it out of the D, but a defensive free hit was awarded for obstruction - an embarrassing 10 seconds of play!
Thankfully soon after we were awarded a free hit on the right, and Annamarie went up to take it, Chops the Wise sensing that a big hit into the D would lead to something...and it did. A wallop, a delicate deliberate deflection from Chops to Sophie L and then whoosh, a corker of a goal hit the netting with tremendous power! 1-1 and we were ecstatic!!
Equalising really spurred us on and in the closing minutes we had a few more great passages of play. Saffron Walden were still playing strongly though, but our defence worked hard with Ellie in particular playing strongly at right back. We had a couple more short corners to see off, with Sophie L earning her MOM by stopping a shot on the line! After a few more late charges by Berko, the final whistle blew and we felt a draw was a fair result, we were mostly just pleased to have survived without pulling any muscles!
Lasagne and garlic bread were eaten, and many laughs were had. This team never fails to make each other smile and giggle, and really that's all we can hope to take from another day playing hockey. X