It’s safe to say that all sports teams prefer a home fixture than an away one — unless you’re stepping foot on the infamous Lee Valley Olympic pitch of course, a moment Southend & Benfleet 2s embraced with excitement this past weekend as they travelled to face the Wapping 6s.
As a light dusting of water settled on the ground, the girls raced to the pitch with excitement and anticipation ahead of push back.
The match exploded into life with a fast paced exchange leading to an early two goal lead for Wapping — a team well known for their regimented structure and attacking prowess.
As the third Wapping goal crashed into the net, S&B were beginning to feel the game drift beyond them. However, this particular group of girls are not a side that falls so easily to defeat.
With a steely determination, S&B begun to turn the tide of the game, and after some crucial saves from keeper Katie Keppel, the ball broke to right winger Georgia Middleton, who stormed down the line into the D, and smashed the ball home claiming the undeniable goal of the match.
With more resolute defending from S&Bs Michelle Arnold, Kerry Payton, Emily Richardson and Nicola Ellis, the opposition counter attacks continued to break down. And then, Middleton again collected the ball from the half way line, broke through the pitch, and found an angle too tight to conceive of scoring from — before duly slotting the ball home. A second “goal of the match” that dazzled all in attendance.
With 10 minutes to run, S&B had found the gap in the Wapping defence and were building momentum. With Chloe King, Grace Wright, Neve Harrison and captain Naomi Barker now pushing further and further forward from midfield to try and level the match, Wapping regrouped and formed an impenetrable defence too strong to breach.
Barker struck twice but couldn’t quite reach the back board, and with the side now feeling the strain of a gallant final push, Wapping seized on a break, claiming their fourth of the match, and sealing a 4:2 victory.
At the site of national hockey excellence, the two teams provided observers with a fittingly exciting, dynamic, and energetic game, and all left the pitch with heads held high.