On the back of 2 defeats in Premier 1, Saints 1s had a point to prove at Talybont on Friday night, but facing a strong Cardiff University side there was an air of determination to register a first win of the season. From the off Cardiff Uni found themselves under pressure with Lloydy and Nia Davies putting the defense under pressure in the “D”. When the ball did make its way into the Saints half Cardiff found themselves facing an on form defence who showed great composure in tackling and outletting. Having threatened the Cardiff goal from early some quick direct hockey the opening scores were inevitable with Kath Hunter, Milly and Nia getting on the scorecard in the first half with goals from play.
Cardiff came out strong in the second half but had no answer for a relentless Saints attack with Milly making some strong pacy runs off the ball and Jen Stuart-Smith tempting the attack with some good passing into space. Lauren Matthews and Kath controlled the centre of the pitch while the defence stayed strong maintaining a clean sheet inspite of some short corner opportunities for the university side. Up front Saints secured some short corners of their own and on the second time of asking debutant Sam Collis secured her place on the scoresheet with a straight strike. The final goal came from Nia, rewarded for all her strong runs and pressure on the defence with player of the match following a great strike past the keeper. Final score Cardiff University 0-5 Saints.
Goals: Nia (2), Milly, Sam, Kath
Player of the match: Nia
Going into Friday night’s game Saints 2s were in a similar position to the 1s with 2 straight defeats in Premier 2. Following a 7-0 win in the 2nd XI cup on Sunday, and a motivating training session on the Monday the team were positive going into a game against current league leaders Cardiff Uni 2s. Starting positively is what the squad did – the uni side were put under severe pressure from the off, with Kate Nicholson and Cath Smaill dominating the midfield and a high defensive line by Becca Daniels and Liz Wakeling preventing the uni attack from developing. Chances were made from great runs down the right by midfielder Holly Fernandez-Lewis and the forwards were unlucky to get on the end of these. The high intensity continued throughout the first half, and despite a couple of counter-attacks putting GK Morgann Williams under pressure, Saints maintained most of the possession in the oppositions half. They were unlucky not to go into the second half with a goal as the umpire awarded Saints a short corner as the ball ended up in the back of the uni net.
The score remained scoreless at half time, but Saints went into the second half with confidence, following a rousing team talk from coach Phil Wilkinson. The second half started at a similar pace to the first although Cardiff Uni showed why they were top of the league by coming back into the game. The Saints defence had to soak up more pressure this time but defender Meg Burton was on hand to clear the line and produce great tackles on several occasions. Saints should have broken the deadlock with a series of short corners, but were unable to convert. When the uni side were awarded a short corner it looked like they had taken the lead from a clean strike, but the umpire disallowed the goal as it was stopped inside the “D”. They were shortly awarded another one, which they managed to scramble in, to the disappointment of the Saints girls.
With around 10 minutes to go it looked like we were heading for a draw with forwards Nicky Oliver, Michelle Partridge and Cath Fleck dispossessing the uni defence regularly, but the uni keeper proved to be a difficult obstacle to overcome. Patient passing by the uni side in the last few minutes meant that the Saints team were unable to turn-over the ball to counter attack. The game ended 1-0 to Cardiff Uni, but whilst captain Becca Daniels was proud by the performance of the team, they were bitterly disappointed not to convert the majority of the possession into goals. This third defeat leaves them bottom of Premier 2, but having now played the three toughest fixtures at the start of the season they can build on the solid foundation and move on with confidence that the goals will come.