So Chairman Drew had put this out as a potential high scoring affair. Watching the well drilled Highbury team warm up I couldn't help but think this stark warning was going to come true. We watched them run through drills and sink shot after shot with a sense of overwhelming unease. Our prospects looked dire and seemed to have been given to the wolves. They looked sharp, they looked determined and we seemed to have woken the dragon by challenging them.
This being the first 5th team game for quite some time it was a bit uncertain in how the division would set out but we had myself, Stu, Lucy and Cat in first attack and Natalie, Abby, Elliot and Ian in first defence. This didn't start well, as my very first pass from the off sailed over Cat's head only to end up out of bounds. A dreadful start, that fortunately our defending division were able to recover from and retrieve the ball almost immediately Passing the ball straight to me, I forgot my earlier indiscretion, lined up my shot and, taking confidence from Cat's excellent positional play under the post, stuck up a hopeful shot. It hit the korf, spun, spun some more, spun just a little more, spun some more, spun some more and then finally dropped. 1-0 to us and barely 2 minutes into the game. Being in this fairly unusual position, that of being in the lead, clearly didn't agree with us. As we dropped 1 goal to a free pass, then another to a penalty and barely survived another 2 missed penalties from Highbury.
Things were rocking, things were shaky. We were 2-1 down and it wasn't looking good. We secured a penalty, missed and another one, missed . We looked well and truly to be on the ropes. Who could step up to restore order? Well Ian Riddell that's who. Sinking one from midrange Ian levelled the score, only to have his achievement matched by Stu soon after with an excellent, dead-eye score from long distance. Lucy quickly notched up our 4th and at 4-2 we felt pretty confident that we could move forward and establish ourselves on the game. This seemed to be secured by another penalty awarded to us, only for us to miss that one again. This misfortune was only countered by Highbury missing 2 penalties awarded to them in return. That didn't hold them back too much though as my opponent sunk 2 from the half way line to tie the game at 4-4. Cat then stepped up, securing her first ever goal for the club in a competitive match, and slotted home a mid-range shot to take it to 5-4 and move into half time.
Coach Robb Will Winn stepped up to give us his wisdom (more of the same but score more goals, pure genius!) and the break slipped by without us noticing. Sadly we hadn't received tips on defence, or at least we weren't paying attention to them, as Highbury tied the game and then went one better to take the lead for the first time in the match. Mainly by my opponent showing his proficiency from the halfway line. He scored 4 from the same same distance and demonstrated why I should have been marking him a lot tighter.
It was at this point that a certain Mr. Barrass decided to show his skill and score his first competitive goal for the club. It was an unconventional mix or a running in shot and mid range shot. A self declared 'ugliest, nastiest shot I've ever put up'* but it went in. Despite all this, it levelled the game and brought us back into it. We quickly followed this up with an excellently worked running in goal from Lucy and we regained the lead. 7-6 it stood but was not to remain. They scored, I added a running in shot and then they scored another. So it sat at 8-8. We'd been up, had, the game tied back, gone up by 2, gone down and tied again. Clearly it was a tight game and the finest of margins was going to take it. The game was only going to be won by the finest of margins. So it was to be proved. We received yet another penalty, our 6th of the game, and, unlike all the previous ones, we buried it to take it to 9-8.
A quick time check showed we had 6 minutes left on the clock. Plenty of time for Highbury to level up and take the lead, especially in such a close game. Fortunately we managed to show a resolute defence and close out the game to secure a rare win. We'd showed some keen eyes in shooting, some resolute defence, all of which we've done before, but the main difference was the structure we showed. This time, perhaps more than any other game this season, we moved and played as a team. We covered each other in defence, worked collect and feed well and overall demonstrated a level of teamwork that inexorably led to success.
In the last couple of reports I've written I've given out man of the match awards. It's for the reasons above that I find it impossible to do so for this week. Overall this was a team success, as shown by the fact that our 9 goals came from 6 different scorers. In summary this was a deserved and hard fought win, against a well drilled opposition. If I must find a black mark against it, it's the fact that we scored only 1 from 6 penalties but overall this was a good win against a side several places above us in the league. However it really did prove a success of firsts. Cat and Elliot scored their first competitive goals for the club, Lucy scored her first brace, I scored my first ever hat trick and Supernova 5 recorded their first ever win from open play. a great game and a great result.