Letchworth III 1 Bodiceas 2
In their final league game of a marathon campaign, Letchworth needed just a point, against a team already relegated & having conceded 72 goals, to stay in Div 2 next season. Unfortunately, they found themselves on the receiving end of a Bodiceas' attempt to win their only match this season. With an ex National League captain (Donna Pringle), returning from a lengthy injury break & a goalkeeper (Kate Brannelly) who features in this season's St Albans National League squad, in their ranks, Bodiceas obviously meant business.
In the warm sunshine, Letchworth appeared to take control with Jo Pinn living up to her name pinning back & harrying their defence into errors. Letchworth were unlucky not to open the scoring when a cross from the right sailed past the face of the goal without anyone able to get a touch on it.
Bodiceas weathered the first quarter and then began to ease themselves into the game as their midfield found a foothold. Both teams worked hard to find openings in the heat but it was the visitors who took the lead from an intricate short corner routine.
In the second half, Letchworth countered and kept the Bodiceas' under pressure but were thwarted time & again by the St Albans 'keeper. Letchworth threw more players into attack but left themselves vulnerable to some incisive passing from the Bodiceas skilful midfield. Conceding a short corner, Helen Anton scored her second goal for the visitors with a hard strike, which hit the corner of the far post & bounced over the line.
Letchworth were now really up against it but refused to lie down. With Sue Saunders & Phillipa Dawes making inroads down the right, backed up by "Player of the Match and Season" ABBIE DEVOILE, Letchworth finally beat the Bodiceas' goalkeeper. Another surging run from Sue found CHARLOTTE HEATON-KEEL, who made no mistake slotting the ball into goal - just reward for her determined effort throughout the battle for survival.
As Bodiceas resorted to long clearances upfield, Letchworth became more desperate to find an equaliser, forcing a mounting number of short corners. In spite of conjuring up a number of variations to try & beat the opposition 'keeper, they were denied by her outstanding performance. Haidee Castle saw one of her deflected shots fly past the top corner & Deborah Wren also had a lofted attempt palmed away.
On the final whistle, three short corners were kept out by more stunning saves and there was no doubt that their goalkeeper had kept Bodiceas in the game. With some clinical finishing by their centre forward as well, the St Albans team secured their solitary victory, leaving Letchworth infuriated by what they considered was a team bolstered by a more highly ranked player than those usually encounter at this level.
A disappointing end but Letchworth can be proud of the way they maintained their composure in this particular encounter and with their great team spirit & ceaseless determination throughout the season.
They are now waiting to see where Saffron Walden's teams play their hockey next season, after their top two sides were penalised with relegatetion from the East League. If one or both teams choose not to compete in the 5 Counties League, Letchworth 3s may yet be handed a lifeline & avoid relegation.
Updated 16:25 - 23 Apr 2018 by Rowena Wehrmann