UEA women’s second side produced a display of scintillating Hockey as they brushed aside struggling Dereham 3s 10-0 at the Sportspark to get back to winning ways in the Empresa Norfolk Women’s Hockey League Premier Division.
First half hat-tricks from Hattie Scott-Clark and Phoebe Hartz were complimented by second-half goals from Hartz again, Natalie Beckett, Flo Blackburn and Niamh Healy as UEA dominated from the first whistle to the last.
Hartz opened the scoring, with UEA soon two goals ahead. Their free-flowing attacking hockey came in welcome contrast to the previous week’s 9-0 home loss to Loddon 1s.
From early on, Healy was a key component of UEA’s forward play. She couldn’t get enough power on a shot that was saved after a great solo run where she jinked around the visitors’ defence.
It was soon 3-0 to UEA from a short corner, before Scott-Clark set up Hartz who saw a shot saved.
UEA’s first-half domination continued as the lively Steph Stubbs saw a shot saved, the ball falling to Healy who was blocked. As the half progressed, Stubbs came into the game more. Hannah Bland controlled a bouncing through-ball, unleashing a tricky shot which didn’t miss by much.
Bland then turned provider, assisting Hartz who netted another with an assured finish.
Bland was unselfish once again, crossing to Scott-Clark. The midfielder flicked the ball on to Hartz, who saw her attempt blocked. Stubbs then teed up Scott-Clark, who couldn’t get a shot off on this occasion.
UEA were cruising at 6-0 by half-time, but their domination stepped up another gear in the second half.
Skipper Izzy Richardson put it on a plate for Hartz to tap in her fourth minutes into the half. Scott-Clark had a shot blocked from a short corner but couldn’t get to the rebound, while Richardson attempted to slide in Hartz again but saw her pass cut out.
Katie Beauchamp made several forays forward from the back. A right-wing cross to Healy looked promising, but the forward couldn’t find the flick-on.
Lucy Coyne and Richardson combined to win a sideline that was pinging around the visitors’ area. Beauchamp had a shot blocked and Richardson was getting her hands dirty in the thick of the action, creating several chances.
A fierce shot from Emma Fox fell to Richardson, but there was too much power on the strike for her to give the flick-on any direction. The Dereham goalkeeper had to be alert to kick away several attempts from a UEA short corner.
Scott-Clark then had the ball in the net, but her attempt was ruled out.
Defender Libby Catchpole cut out a rare attack and fed a ball to Coyne, although this led to a scarcely seen turnover of possession.
Dereham turned up in the last 20 minutes with a few promising attacking moves, but Emma Zugic in the heart of UEA’s defence alongside Catchpole remained focused to mop up stray balls where required. Goalkeeper Kaylee Dickerson deserves a great deal of credit for staying alert to kick away a shot and retain her clean sheet.
Lauren Whiting was becoming an important cog in UEA’s attacking threat, as if more firepower was needed. Charlotte Erskine and Natalie Beckett were introduced, and despite getting limited minutes, the latter scored a nice goal as UEA racked them up.
Stubbs forced a superb save after some fluid UEA interplay between UEA’s attack in the visitors’ half.
UEA’s ninth goal was by far the best. Flo Blackburn placed a gorgeous curling shot from the left across goal and into the far side.
Next, a 30 second spell in which UEA laid siege to their opponents’ goal would have been agonising if the game was closer – but by this point it was a joy to watch.
And any thought that UEA might be satisfied with leaving the best goal to last was put firmly to bed as Healy added gloss to the scoreline with a tap-in. It’s not the best goal she’s ever scored, but they all count. And in a game in which both Healy and UEA played such sublime, easy-on-the-eye attacking Hockey, they can be forgiven the odd scrappy finish.
Emma Fox was deservedly named man of the match. With UEA operating a high press, Fox was the first line of defence, intercepting numerous through balls and snuffing out countless potential attacks, turning over possession and allowing UEA to go forward.
One of the best individual performances from any UEA sport side this season represents a major boost for the women’s 2s as they look to cement a mid-table finish this year.