Upminster Ladies (2s) 2 v 2 Southend & Benfleet (1s) – 19/03/16

Upminster Ladies 2’s & Southend & Benfleet 1’s the two top teams in the Ladies Essex Premier League played out the Title decider In front of a large vocal crowd plus some interested third parties whose match had already been played. Having drawn their previous encounter, this was always going to be a tight, tense match and so it proved to be. Both sides were quickly into their stride but it was S&B who threatened first, with Upminster’s defence clearing the danger before they approached the D. With a fast paced opening, a silky dribble from Harriet Davies towards the S&B D allowed her to find Alexa Marston whose effort went wide. Davies was soon attacking the D again without success. As the game moved quickly from end to end, Zara White and Colette Mcloughin were strong in the tackle as S&B broke towards Upminster’s defensive line. With Jackie Hilton allowing no room in midfield Upminster kept the pressure up, although passes across the goal area were not taken advantage of. When possession was lost S&B were quick to utilise the pace of their forwards , on 11 Mins a break from inside their own half down the right wing saw a drive into the D, with a pass across the goal evading the diving Keeper Charlotte Triggs the ball was put away giving S&B the lead. Vocal encouragement urged Upminster forward in numbers searching for an equaliser, a Marston drive into the D was halted by a good tackle whilst a Chloe Lawrence drive towards the D from the side line was blocked. Good link up play between Davies and Hilton allowed Hilton to drive into the D, her pass found Jackie Charman who in turn found Abby Michellow at the back post who made no mistake levelling the score at 1-1 on 15 mins. From the restart S&B moved forward through the midfield to Upminster’s D, as Triggs came out to cover, the S&B player was quick to manoeuvre around her and finish despite the defenders closing in 1-2 to S&B on 16 Mins. With both sides maintaining a high tempo the Club’s Defender of the Season Lynn Sexton was strong and physical in the tackle thwarting S&B twice in quick succession, whilst the defensive unit as a whole successively cleared 2 Short corners. Winning possession in Midfield Bryony Palmer moved Upminster forward in search of a 2nd equaliser, their attacking play created a chance for Robyn Hodges whose high goal bound effort was pushed over the bar by the S&B Keeper. With the game ebbing from end to end a S&B attack was stopped on the edge of the D as Triggs stayed strong and determined in a clash with the attacker, the ball running wide. Back came Upminster their pressure and presence in the S&B D being rewarded as they were awarded a Penalty Flick following an illegal block on the line. The Clubs top scorer Bella Colafrancesco confidently dispatched the flick into the top right corner to make it 2-2 on 29 Mins. The half ended with no further score as both defences remained strong in the tackle averting any danger. 2nd half Knowing only a win would secure the title Upminster took the game to S&B with Rosie Pettingill spreading the play out and Marston and Davies continuing to cause panic around the D , the S&B Keeper saved firstly with her feet then again following 2 short corners in quick succession. With Rose Monaghan, Davies, Palmer, Pettingill and Charman continually moving Upminster forward play was centred on and around the S&B area, who were content to defend in numbers and soak up the pressure thus frustrating Upminster. Whilst defending deep S&B’s clearances downfield allowed their forwards to break with pace earning a short corner which was blocked and cleared. With the score even both teams felt the pressure mounting and with tackles intensifying, Colafranscesco remained an immoveable rock literally stopping a S&B player at full speed. Winning tackles strongly in midfield and prompting Upminster forward Marston and Hodges earned a short corner, Colafrancesco’s effort striking a foot, the follow up short corner being hit wide. As the crowd became more vocal urging Upminster to push on S&B were able to maintain possession in the Upminster half running the clock down as play centred on and around the Upminster D. With one final surge forward, Marston played the ball into the D Hilton recovered the loose ball and passed to Davies, who was unable to force a path through the defensive line towards the goal as the whistle sounded ending a hard fought entertaining game between the top 2 sides. It has been a fantastic season for the Ladies 2’s, all players should feel proud of the hockey they have produced during the season resulting in them earning the Runners Up position. DOTM: THE TEAM POTM: THE TEAM [ig_lightbox_image_sh image_url=”http://s881403258.websitehome.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/P1140246.jpg” image_popup_url=”” thumb_width=”” title=”Alexa Marston & Chloe Lawrence combine in the Southend & Benfleet ‘D'” gallery_name=”UHC 2s v Southend & Benfleet 1s” class=””]