UEA Ladies Hockey first XI emerged triumphant from their home fixture with Harper Adams firsts to go top of the fledgling Midlands 2B League table.
The last meeting between the two sides ended in controversy last season when a pheasant was thrown from the sidelines towards the UEA ladies, but there was to be no repeat this time around.
The UEA ladies came out in high spirits, eager to return to winning wins and the top of the league following the previous weeks’ loss to Oxford University. The opposition, known for their boisterous nature and strength on the ball, brought a somewhat agricultural style of play from their Shropshire home.
Harper Adams started the game more brightly, but it was UEA who took the lead in the contest. The ball was worked down the pitch through some short, sharp linkage play between the midfield and the attack, allowing Grace Julier to slip the ball over the line despite the best efforts of the Harper Adams defensive line. Unfortunately, the visitors were quick to fight back and equalised almost immediately. That was quickly followed by a second from just inside the ‘D’ as the Adams Ladies took control of the contest.
In spite of the best efforts of the UEA forward players, the Harper Adams defensive unit remained resolute. Victoria Boulton was providing the main threat for UEA, but even her Usain-Bolt-like pace could not penetrate the visitors’ defence.
With the match heading into half time, however, UEA got themselves back on level terms. Grace Julier was the main woman once again, hitting a shot straight past the goalkeeper to draw the game level at 2-2 and leave the UEA Ladies more composed going into the second half.
The second half began in much the same way as the first, except this time it was Harper Adams who managed to find the breakthrough first. Despite the stunning saves of goalkeeper Fiona Bennell, UEA fell behind for the second time in the contest, the Shropshire side scoring a lucky goal to make it 3-2.
The rousing half time team talk had stirred UEA, though, and with the standard of play improving all of the time, it wasn’t long before UEA were on level terms once again. After moving the ball effortlessly around the pitch, Pippa Emmans found herself one-on-one with the keeper, sliding the ball effortlessly past the last line of defence and into the bottom right hand corner for 3-3.
Not quite satisfied with taking a point from the contest, UEA rallied late on in the cold surrounds of Sportspark and found a decisive winner.
After good link up play, Georgia Cleveland’s strike took a wicked deflected that even Lucy Jeffries would have been proud of. The final whistle promptly sounded to ensure a spectacular 4-3 success for UEA.
It was an excellent all round team performance from the ladies, with special mentions to Bennell, Emma Fox, and Sophie Thomas, all of whom played an integral role in the victory.
All of the girls showed an excellent team ethic, spirit and an incredible work rate to come from behind and take the win, moving them to the top of the table in the process.