Croydon 2 are shaping up at the biggest challenger to SN1's title hopes. Win this and the title would be a lot closer to our grasp.
The stats explain what happened - only seven goals scored even though the opportunities were being created, combined with the fact that five of Croydon's seven goals came from penalties meant we made things really quite hard for ourselves.
Both teams started with strong, fast defences and both attacks started slowly. Jess got on the score sheet first, turning and popping the ball in after her defender failed to intercept her feeding. Croydon replied with a long shot before converting two penalties to take them 3-1 up. Martin sent in a huge shot from downtown (or is it officially called Pim-lico now?) that sailed through the korf before Jess got her second with smart work off the back of the post. Unfortunately, another Croydon penalty gave them an easy reply before Ben converted one for Nova and made the scores four-all at the break.
The half time talk recognised that we were the better team out there, but we were giving away unnecessary penalties and not taking our chances. Sadly, that didn't stop us giving away some more pens in the second half. The first ten minutes of the second half were goalless for both teams, though Martin managed to defy at least two laws of gravity with one shot that bounced and rolled around the rim, but refused to drop. When the goals came, they came for Croydon - two more penalties and a long shot and Supernova were three goals down with 8 minutes left on the clock. At this stage, one of the Croydon girls injured her hand trying to intercept and a few minutes delay meant that we lost track of the time remaining.
But Supernova weren't down yet. Not only did we stop giving away penalties (hooray!), but we started scoring as well. First Ben with a runner gave us hope, then Bear's mid distance shot left us one goal down. Croydon started to panic a little and gave the ball away a few times. The coach's watch ticked to zero and still no equaliser: we knew there was only a minute or two left, but no idea exactly how long. One more attack and Jess put up a shot from the back that looked like it was going in, but just skimmed the front rim and bounced over the korf. Was that it? Nope! An intercept in defence, a long pass to Martin in feed, Bear gets space, lines up to shoot and... her defender desperately leaps from the side and clatters into her. The ref blows and points to the penalty spot. Tom Drew steps up, holds his nerve and pops it straight in. Croydon barely have time for the centre pass before the final whistle went.
So, a point saved, but a nagging feeling that our profligacy in giving away penalties cost us the win. When not giving away penalties, defence was, at times, awesome in what was a very face paced game. Ben Cawley mopped up collections and intercepts all game and Dewald, in his first SN1 game of the year, did an amazing job on a Dutch guy twice his size, keeping him goalless.
So the title is still up for grabs. These team meet again in two weeks in a game we cannot afford to lose.