Hockey heroines sparkle at home
THE girls from the Under 13 section of Abergavenny Hockey Club gave it some stick and produced a great display of hockey in last weekend's tournament,
Held in Abergavenny, the tournament was split between two venues. Aber were assigned to the stronger section, with Whitchurch and Newport providing the opposition on this occasion.
Fewer teams meant for more pitch time, and with six matches for each of Abergavenny's two teams, there were some tired legs on show after some gruelling duels.
The 'A' team came out with only one loss, and that was against the 'B' team who claimed the bragging rights on this occasion with a 1-0 win - which saw Lara Botting battling through a resolute defence to score the winning goal.
However, in the 'return' fixture the result was exactly reversed, this time Alex Jones netting to ensure that honours remained even.
In the matches against the travelling teams, the 'A' team scored a win against Whitchurch 'A' with Alyssa Morgan scoring a great goal from a powerful shot.
The remaining matches against travelling teams ended up in very tight draws, with Nicola Jones and Alex Jones scoring.
In all matches, opponent goalkeepers were kept very busy with many goalbound shots, and the goalpost was rattled by a particularly rasping shot from Alex Jones.
Any breakaways were snuffed out with a great team structure. In particular, Mali Atkins helped to create a commanding midfield quartet.
The defensive strength of Rebecca Hoyle and Kayleigh Jones helped pin opponents back by taking up forward positions and getting involved in midfield tussles.
But perhaps the moment of the day was towards the end of the very tight draw against Newport. Jessica Francis in goal made a triple save following rebounds and such a presence gave the defence and midfield confidence.
The 'B' team enjoyed similar possession and territory advantage over the opposition. Tremendously unlucky to lose their first game against Whitchurch 'A', when on another day they could have scored four or five goals had the goalie not had the game of her life.
Alas, a single breakaway goal is sometimes all it takes.
The line up of Sian Phillips, Fleur Atkins, Lara Botting and Bethan Phillips took charge of midfield and they all created chances for themselves and team-mates.
As with the 'A' team their structure was magnificent at all times with Rebecca Brinn and Ellie Dickinson perfectly sound in defence but also confident enough to push up and pin the opposition back in their own half.
Any goal attempts by the opposition were decisively cleared by goalie Sophie Edwards.
After the setback of the first match, the 'B' team came away with two draws and a win in their four matches against travelling teams. The win coming against Newport with a lovely strike from Botting.
As is now customary, the girls managed to find some energy after the tournament, to nominate their players of the tournament. Jessica Francis took the award for the 'A' team and Lara Botting for the 'B' team.
A just reward for Francis's 'champagne moment' of the tournament with her triple save, and Botting's bag of four goals on the day.
In all matches Abergavenny were pressing and always looking to win; perhaps more luck will come their way in future and they'll enjoy more wins than draws.
Junior training continues at the Leisure Centre Astroturf on Tuesdays from 7-8pm.