After much negotiation, the re-arranged Semi-Final of the England Hockey Ladies O45 Cup took place on Sunday between Sutton Coldfield HC and Redland 'Werey's' from Bristol. EH Regulations permitted both clubs to include players from 5 additional clubs which meant both teams fielded strong sides, in what proved to be an extremely competitive encounter.
Both teams started well, with each side displaying some good attacking hockey. The Redland defence stood strong and thwarted numerous circle penetrations and shots from the in-form strikers, Mandy Gatherer and Jane Sixsmith. At the other end, Sutton's defence was well orchestrated by Mel Linnell, who was ably supported by fellow defenders Jen Parkes, Julie Carter and Carol Rodgers, whose timely tackles and tireless legwork was incredible.
The deadlock was broken after 20 minutes with a well crafted pass to Sutton's Jane Sixsmith, who calmly slotted the ball past the stranded Redland Keeper. The match continued in similar vein in the second half, with Sutton being continuously denied by some dogged Redland defending. Redland persisted in throwing long balls forward trying to catch Sutton on the break, and it wasn't long before one of the Redland strikers dived onto the end of one, to put the score level at 1-1.
Redlands tails were up and they threw everyone forward in attempt to take the lead, but some gritty midfield work from Cross, Vaughan, Gatherer and Davies disrupted their flow and Sutton began to regain their composure. Sutton broke the deadlock again when a penalty stroke was awarded after a goal mouth incident. Jen Parkes stepped up with supreme confidence and placed the ball just past the outstretched GK to take the lead to 2-1.
Sutton continued to pile on the pressure with some great attacking play down the flanks and when Sixsmith found the net again, following a defence splitting reverse stick pass from Mandy Davies, the game was all but over for Redland 'Werey's'. Sixsmith continued to demonstrate her Olympic class when she completed her hat-trick following another well worked short corner routine.
It was a well deserved team win for this talented group of players from Sutton Coldfield, Olton, Blossomfield, Lichfield, Belper & Towcester. Made even more satisfying knowing the opposition had already booked their accomodation for the Final! Sutton Coldfield now head to the Olympic Park Hockey Stadium on Saturday 27th April where they will play St Albans in the Cup Final. The match is scheduled before the GB v USA women's match.
Updated 17:30 - 18 Mar 2019 by Nuala Yelland