On what felt like a summers day KS Cougars arrived early for their last league game of this years season knowing that a win would secure them 4th place and leave the door open for a possible top 3 finish.
With all to play for the Cougars planned to achieve some early pressure and take control of the game as soon as possible. Leading from the front Captain Helen Symons
showed the way as she pounced onto a ball from Emily Read
and fired home after ten minutes to open the scoring with her 18th goal of the season, helping to maintain her record as top goal scorer for the Cougars for another year running.
KS looked comfortable on the ball as they made full use of the passing options available to retain possession, movement off the ball was fantastic as players moved to support each other and develop pressure in attack with Heather-jo Webber
looking dangerous down the right side channel.
Three minutes later and the Cougars were now creating consistent pressure around the ECVH goal as they picked up on their pre game brief of chasing in every shot and not letting the keeper clear easily. Making good use of the press Vice Captain Bex Darke
picked up on a loose ball in front of goal and scrambled it over the line to take the score to 2-0.
With the match hardly restarted from the last goal Darke struck again, picking up a pass from Symons she jinked the first defender then cheekily flicked past the unsighted keeper on the reverse for a well taken opportunist goal.
ECVH played three strikers high but their occasional breaks were well covered by Claire Jones
, Fi Wadey
and Gemma Harvey at the back and Hayley Russell
in goal who looked sharp on her toes when called upon to clear.
Making use of rolling subs Tess Morris
and Hannah Durrans took a spell in the front line with both looking dangerous in front of goal and Durrans unlucky when her goal was disallowed after a foot infringement.
took a spell in the midfield having scored a hat-trick against ECVH in the away fixture before Christmas. Always keen and hunting for action she was unlucky not to score again when her powerful sweep shot flew just wide into the side netting.
It fell to Lou Read
to close the first half with another goal and bring the score to 4-0. Jones delivered the assist as Read collected, danced past her marker into the D and delivered a deceptively slow shot past the expectant keeper.
With goal difference key to a chance at securing third place in the league the Cougars set out to score again in the second half and put ECVH straight back under pressure.
Five minutes after the restart Darke was on hand to complete her hat trick with another well taken goal. With Sarah Budgen
working tirelessly in midfield Darke was free to play in the pocket behind the two strikers and was in perfect position again to dive onto a loose ball, her turn and powerful slapshot left the ECVH keeper no chance and took the score to 5-0.
With energy levels being sapped by the heat the Cougars did well to maintain their work rate through the half, with the whole team dominating the attacks Wadey and Harvey both made piercing runs covering the full length of the pitch to support the play.
The advantage of rolling subs allowed the halves and forwards to take a brief breather with the clock counting down into the final ten minutes. A quick heads up from Coach Ash Wyeth
on a defensive weakness and slight tweak in formation to pair Symons and Chloe Harvey
up front set the scene.
With five minutes remaining and knowing just what was needed the dynamic duo retook the field to crown the end of a great season and resounding win with the goal everyone has been waiting for since the season began in September.
With one minute left on the clock KS broke through the middle and released the two forwards into space. Eliminating the last defender and exchanging passes into the ECVH D, Symons drew the keeper then slipped the pass to Harvey who confidently slotted home into the far corner for her first goal of the year!
The whistle blew on a superb display of hockey from KS who finished the season not only in style, but also playing to their strengths and focusing on achieving the results needed to secure a fourth place finish in the league and give themselves a chance of achieving third on goal difference. Woman of the match award was shared by Bex Darke
and Chloe Harvey
for their impressive performances on the day.
The Cougars were in action again the following morning as nine members of the club ran 3 miles each in aid of Sport Relief at Kingsbridge Rugby Club and would like to thank Bex Darke
for organising and the Rugby Club for hosting a great event which saw families and friends turning out on a lovely day for a very worthwhile cause.
The Cougars would also like to extend their thanks to everyone who has supported them from the sidelines throughout the season and to the Gazette team for their great coverage of local sport. Training continues on Thursday evenings as the Cougars prepare for the summer mixed league in Plymouth.